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Glass, as an important industrial material, has certain side effects, which are health related. Below is a literature review on the health effects brought about by glass.
Environmental conservation and management implies practices involving the eradications of all possible pollutants. Pollution is a process that renders a particular environment unsuitable to live in or stay at. One of the main causes of pollution is glass. According to the World Health Organization, glass is very dangerous especially in the form of filament fiber (Kilburn, Powers & Warshaw, 1998 p13). It is one of the intermediate or final products of a glass-manufacturing firm. There is always a continuous production of filament glass fiber (Botham & Holt, 1996, p65). This makes inhalation of the filament possible to many of the industrial workers, as well as, the surrounding community members. The potential of the fiber causing health hazards, however, depends on the fiber’s ability to respire, that is, its potential to enter the lung’s lower regions. The WHO goes ahead to illustrate the characteristics of respirable fibers that determines their effects on the human body (APFE, 2003 p112). For instance, those with their diameters greater than 3 microns do not normally reach the lower respiratory tract, hence has little or no probability of causing any serious pulmonary disease. Some were inhalable and resulted to serious respiratory problems. The tiny or microscopic nature of the glass makes it inhalable.
Glass fibers also cause mechanical irritation that is itching of the skin and eyes as well. European Glass Fiber Producers Association (EGFPA, 2003) argues that the itching or irritation caused by glass fiber is not an allergic reaction. The assertion has been seconded by the 23rd amendment on the labeling of perilous substances. Continuous release of sufficient amount of filament glass fibers into the air during manufacturing process makes some of the company workers develop respiratory difficulties. Besides the eye and skin irritation, fiber glass also causes nose throat irritation when exposed to an individual. This results because of the mouth and nose inhalation of the particles. Inhaling these glass dusts also causes bronchitis, coughing, or shortness in breathing. These diseases, when not handled well, may cause a lot of complications to the infected individuals, and can result into death.
In addition to the above, long-term exposure to this type of glass in a high concentration may lead to permanent lung disease. Biologists and health specialists put it that lung is a vital organ and any factor hindering its function or morphology may cause an individual’s death. Apart from human beings, glass is also not healthy to other animals and plants (Yanar, Ercen &, 2010 p89). An ongoing research has partly revealed that glass causes cancer in animals.
From the above evidential illustrations, it is succinct that glass, mainly fiber-glass, has many harmful effects on the immediate environment. It affects the lives of people, as well as, that of animals creating an unsafe surrounding for them to live in. necessary steps should, therefore, be taken to ensure that industries producing glass fiber as a waste product be banned. They should alternatively find a way of disposing the dangerous substance into the air.