What makes fibres dangerous?

- Jun 11, 2018-

Inhaled fibres can be dangerous because they may be breathed deep into the lung and resist or avoid the body’s attempts at removal. If they persist in the lungs for a sufficiently long time and in sufficient quantities, they can cause damage by irritation and inflammation and eventually scarring or even cancer. There are three important characteristics – the ‘three Ds’ – that determine the degree of hazard posed by a fibre:

  • Dose – the number of fibres breathed in and reaching the deep lung (alveolar region)

  • Dimension – fibre length and diameter

  • Durability (better referred to as biopersistence) – the property that determines the extent to which a fibre will withstand the lung’s natural removal processes

Long, thin and biopersistent fibres are the most hazardous.