4 Things About Asbestos Exposure You Probably Don’t Know About But Should

How much do you know about asbestos? It’s a naturally occurring mineral that’s also a carcinogen, which means it’s a cancer-causing agent. Unfortunately, materials used to build homes across the United States until the late 1980s contained asbestos.

So, if you live in an older residence, there’s a possibility of asbestos in everything from your attic insulation to your roofing and your floor tiles to your plumbing. You’ll want to exercise caution in such situations since asbestos exposure can have severe health implications. If you leave materials containing asbestos alone and don’t scatter the asbestos fibers, your risks will drop. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be free and clear of risks — you’ll just lower the danger level. 

Consider these four things you ought to know about asbestos but probably don’t.

1. Exposure Can Lead to Mesothelioma

Arguably the most severe health problem from asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. While some cancers can go into remission so that patients live a long life, such is not the case with mesothelioma. Even a single exposure, where asbestos fibers are inhaled and lodged in the lungs, is enough to cause mesothelioma. After diagnosis, patients typically live for four to 18 months. Learning how to reduce asbestos exposure risks is vital to avoid severe health complications.

Since it often takes decades for the disease to develop, diagnosis usually occurs in the late stages of mesothelioma. That’s one reason why people with mesothelioma face a short life expectancy.

2. People in Certain Occupations Face Great Risks

While the risks of asbestos exposure in the workforce are low for professionals and tradespersons working today, the same is not necessarily the case for people working decades ago. People in certain occupations faced higher asbestos exposure risks than average. 

Products and materials with asbestos were common decades ago. So, people working in the shipbuilding, asbestos textile, asbestos milling and mining, auto mechanics, firefighters, and the drywall spaces were potentially exposed to asbestos. 

You may also remember that professionals and tradespersons involved in the rescue, cleanup, and recovery efforts following the World Trade Center and New York City terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, were exposed to asbestos. After the attacks, tons of asbestos fibers entered the environment. People working or volunteering at the terrorist attack sites are at a significant risk of developing asbestos-related ailments and some of them already have.

3. You Can Possibly Encounter Asbestos at Home

Homes built before 1989, the year asbestos products were mostly banned in the U.S., may contain asbestos. And, unfortunately, asbestos was widely used due to its durability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation properties. That means asbestos can show up in attic and wall insulation, textured paint and patching compounds, vinyl floor tiles, hot water and steam pipes, roofing and siding shingles, oil furnace gaskets, and more. 

When working on home improvement projects, you’ll want to exercise caution if your home may have materials and products containing asbestos. You can hire a professional company to test your home for asbestos so you can do the renovation work safely without health concerns.

4. You Can Get Other Ailments Besides Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma isn’t the only health complication that can come from asbestos exposure. Another disease is lung cancer. Asbestosis, a lung disease that is non-cancerous, is another potential problem. If your doctor suspects you’ve been exposed to asbestos, they can conduct an examination, perform chest x-rays, and do other things to determine if that’s the case. 

Asbestos isn’t anything to take lightly since exposure can have life-and-death consequences. The more you familiarize yourself with asbestos, the dangers, and how to stay safe, the better off you’ll be.

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