Until the 1970’s, asbestos was used extensively because of its numerous advantages. This versatile material and was used all over America for construction and industrial applications. It was used in the automotive industry, shipbuilding industry, paper mills, equipment repair shops, and many other industries. Ultimately, the harmful effects of asbestos came to light, and laws and regulations banned its use. In fact, it is banned in more than 50 countries today. However, many of its deadly remnants still linger. In the U.S., workers are still coming into contact with this deadly material whether knowingly or unknowingly.
Many people living around areas where asbestos was heavily used are currently at risk. Many workers are now facing health issues because of it. One study states that around 11 million people were exposed to asbestos during the 1940’s and 1970’s. New York, an industrial hub, is one of the many states that has been affected by it. Exposure to this substance can cause a form of cancer known as mesothelioma. In this moment you may be breathing in cancer at home or work without even realizing it.
Are You at Risk?
Asbestos is a fiber-like material which is a combination of 6 natural minerals. These six minerals are:
The most commonly used form of asbestos is chrysotile (aka: white asbestos). It is known to be very harmful to lungs and can cause respiratory disease such as asbestosis. It may even cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. Construction workers are most prone to asbestos as they are in its vicinity the majority of the time. However, it is not only workers who are at risk. Your home can be teeming with cancer-causing materials.
Asbestos may be hiding in your roof, tile, fire furnaces, ducts, cement and even in your home’s pipes. Its use goes further than construction applications. Many of the products and materials in your home may have been made using some form of asbestos. This includes personal items, toys, and even curtains! Many people are at an immediate risk but may not know it.
For those who live in more recently constructed homes that were not made with asbestos-containing materials, the workplace is another area that may constitute risk. Many office spaces and other work areas may be older buildings which may still contain asbestos. The risk of exposure is high once asbestos containing products or materials become damaged or disturbed. This causes asbestos fibers to be released into the air. Once asbestos becomes airborne, it can directly reach the lungs and result in serious lung-related diseases and cancer.
- Do not use commercial products that have been known to be made from asbestos
- If you have a product or material that contains asbestos, be sure it does not get damaged or disturbed. Asbestos fibers enter your body through inhalation.
- In case a product does become damaged, do not attempt to repair it yourself; call an experts to avoid any unfavorable circumstances.
- If you have become exposed to asbestos, visit a doctor regularly for check-ups. Lung-disease caused by asbestos may take a long time to show symptoms.
- Be aware at your workplace and ask relevant questions. Around 1.3 million people go to work at a place in which they are significantly exposed to asbestos.
Risky areas of the Home
If you and your family reside in a home that was built prior to the 1970’s, your risk of being exposed to potentially dangerous materials is much higher. With the advancements made in construction, newer materials that make up modern homes contain a significantly lower risk of containing hazardous substances.
Common locations within older homes where asbestos fibers and other toxic materials can potentially be found include within wallpaper coverings, popcorn ceilings, plumping piping, and even within our roofing shingles. With this in mind, it’s critical that we are fully aware that, though the health risks of handling asbestos containing materials may not be immediate, the long term implications that come about from exposure are much more serious, as time progresses. One of the most common results of asbestos exposure is pleural mesothelioma, a rare type of lung cancer.
If you suspect your home may contain asbestos materials, it’s important to take precautionary steps before handing or coming into contact with these hazardous areas of your home. If you are a “DIY-er,” make sure you have fully prepared yourself before starting any home renovation projects. A licensed general contractor can assist with renovations in older homes that contain asbestos. Furthermore, asbestos removal companies may be contacted to ensure your home is safe from the threat.
It’s important to keep in mind that when disturbed, asbestos containing materials release fibers, that become airborne in our homes and workplaces. These fibers can remain stagnant in the air for weeks to come, if not properly venerated, resulting in the inhalation of these dangerous materials.
Asbestos Free Living
The threat for asbestos exposure mostly lies in older homes and buildings in which we live and work on a daily basis. It’s important to ensure the proper precautionary measures are taken to keep ourselves safe from these materials.
Do you live or work in an area built prior to the 1970’s? Have you checked your home for asbestos?