Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The ticking time bomb… ASBESTOS

It was brought to my attention a while back that the roof on my house in Martuni contains asbestos and the dry summer heat and winds can kick the asbestos fibers in the air that I inhale.

I did a Google search with the words “asbestos roof cancer” and it came back with 250,000 hits, the 3rd titled IMC India - White Asbestos Kills.

It is estimated that there are 1,000 homes in the city of Martuni, half of which have roofs made of asbestos. In addition to this, this common inexpensive building material is widely used throughout the region, most notably in Armenia.

What are the health hazards of exposure to asbestos?

Exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of several serious diseases:

- Asbestosis—a chronic lung ailment that can produce shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage;

- Lung cancer;

- Mesothelioma—a relatively rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen; and

-Other cancers, such as those of the larynx, oropharynx, gastrointestinal tract, and kidney.

Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after their first exposure. It can take from 10 to 40 years for symptoms of an asbestos-related condition to appear.

(source: http://cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/3_21.htm)

So what is the solution? Well there are a few.

One is to replace the roofing materials, but of course this is easier said than done in a economically poor country where the common person is just struggling to put food in their children’s mouths.

Replacing the average asbestos roof with a locally manufactured ceramic tile roof costs around $1,500. This may sound like a small price to pay for a healthier future, but for most this luxury is out of reach.

Is this an issue that the Diaspora would be interested in helping out with? For Martuni City to become an asbestos-free zone, we would need to raise $750,000.

Of course we would not want to stop with Martuni, but would want all of Artsakh to be asbestos-free to give us a better chance at a healthy future.

In terms of possible early warning for those having been infected there is this:

Australian Researchers Announce First Blood Test for Asbestos-related Cancer - April 18, 2005

SYDNEY, (AFP) - Australian researchers announced the world's first blood test for the lung cancer mesothelioma, which could help early detection of the deadly asbestos-related disease.

Click on the link below to view the news article:Australian researchers announce first blood test for asbestos-related cancer

I’m seriously thinking that this is one of those issues that our NGO should address. I just hope that were not too late in addressing this problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment