While you may be unaware of the dangers of asbestos exposure, the substance has been recognized as a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance) for several decades. The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Help Center believes that the first step in preventing any future asbestos exposure is to educate as many people as possible about where asbestos was used in the past, who is at risk of exposure, and the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure.
Where was Asbestos Used in the Past?
Before the dangers of asbestos were fully understood in the 1970s, asbestos was a wildly popular building material due to its inexpensive price, durability, and fire-resistant qualities. Not only did companies find many uses for it in our buildings, but also in thousands of products as well. For years, the lurking danger of asbestos exposure was completely unknown to the American people, as large companies fought to keep the information secret in an effort to save costs.
Asbestos can be found in older buildings, especially those built before the 1980s. Older office buildings, schools, and apartment buildings are particularly dangerous since people spend long periods of time inside of these types of buildings. Within these buildings, asbestos may have been used in the pipes, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, and even as insulation.
Be careful around products that were manufactured before the 1980s, since the use of asbestos went practically unchecked before that time.
Who is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
Unfortunately, everyone will be exposed to at least a low level of asbestos during some point in their life. It’s unavoidable; however, these low levels usually never cause the health problems that exposure is known to cause. Typically, only those who have worked around asbestos for many years, or those who have lived with someone who has been consistently exposed to asbestos need to be concerned with the consequences of exposure.
The risk of asbestos exposure also exists for those who work or live near older buildings that are either being demolished or renovated. The asbestos fibers within these buildings may be released into the air if the asbestos is not properly removed before the renovation or destruction begins.
Asbestos was used extensively in war ships and other vessels utilized during the World Wars, so it is very important that veterans be on the lookout for the symptoms of asbestosis or mesothelioma, the diseases commonly associated with asbestos exposure.
Health Hazards of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos fibers do not become a serious health risk as long as they remain undisturbed. Once they have been disturbed, the tiny fibers are released into the air and then inhaled through the mouth and nose, eventually settling in the lungs.
Exposure can lead to the scarring of the lungs, breathing problems, coughing, and even the development of cancer. The diseases commonly caused by asbestos exposure include asbestosis and mesothelioma. While these diseases can be difficult to fight, there are treatment options available for those who have been diagnosed.