Some Common Sources of Asbestos Exposure
The word “asbestos” refers to six minerals with thin, long fibers. These minerals come from soil and rocks. This sounds harmless enough, but asbestos can cause a multitude of health issues, some of which can be fatal. While it is most famous for causing mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, it also causes many cases of lung cancer and a variety of other health issues.
Despite its dangers, asbestos has still not been banned in the United States. So, what can you do to protect you and your family from the its harmful effects? The most important thing you can do is to avoid exposure. Here are a few places where asbestos could be present.
Unfortunately, if your house was built before the 1980s, you could be exposed to asbestos. Before it’s dangers were well-known, asbestos was used in roofing, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, piping, textured paints, patching compounds, ceiling tiles, insulation, and other materials used in home construction.
If your home is older, and you have never had it inspected for asbestos, you probably should. Breathing in the fibers may not cause damage immediately, but the fibers can stay in your lungs for years, causing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other serious and fatal illnesses later. If your home does contain asbestos, then you need to be extremely careful if you do any renovations. Renovation activity can disturb the asbestos, making it easy for you and your family to breathe it in.
Asbestos was also widely used in workplace construction, and is particularly common in industrial materials. It is commonly found in boilers, brakes, valves, pumps, turbines, joint compounds, pipe insulations, tanks, generators etc. If you work in an industrial setting or as a construction worker, demolition worker etc. then you may be at risk for mesothelioma exposure. You should take protective measures to lower your risk of health issues down the road.
Your Child’s School
Frighteningly, asbestos could also be lurking in your child’s school. It was used in the construction of almost all schools before 1980, so if your child is attending an older school, he or she could be at risk. Luckily, every school in the US is required by law to have an asbestos management plan. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires that schools inspect their building for asbestos. It also requires that they are re-inspected at least every three years.
With this plan in place, you can worry less about exposure to asbestos in schools than in other places, but if you have any questions, you can ask the health officials at your child’s school.
These are just a few of the places that you could encounter asbestos. If you feel like you have been exposed to asbestos, you should get medical attention and get the suspected place of exposure examined by an inspector.