Why Asbestos is Bad for You
By Angela Sanders Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 08:03 AM EDT
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral found in rock and soil. Because of its heat and fire resistance and its strength, it has been used in a variety of manufactured goods and construction materials. When materials containing asbestos are left intact, they are harmless. However, when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, asbestos fibers and dust get into the air. If you breathe in or swallow these materials, asbestos fibers can get trapped in your lungs and other organs, leading to a number of serious diseases. Here are some things you need to know about the dangers of asbestos.
Where Asbestos Is Found
Asbestos was widely used in the construction of older homes. Many homes built between 1930 and 1950 have asbestos as insulation. Until 1977, when it was banned, asbestos was used in patching compounds for ceiling and wall joints and for textured paint. Asbestos-containing materials were also used in homes for ceiling and floor tiles, roofing and siding shingles, caulks, putties, cement, plaster, artificial embers and ashes in fireplaces, fireproofing around wood-burning stoves, and insulation for ceilings, walls, pipes and boilers. Asbestos was also extensively used in the construction of Navy ships until the mid-1970s, making naval personnel who served on ships during this era among the groups with the highest risk for asbestos exposure. Asbestos on Navy ships was used in engine and boiler areas, walls and ceilings of galleys and sleeping quarters, as insulating material on pipes, for adhesives, valves, gaskets, cables and many other uses besides. Because of the close quarters onboard ships, crewmembers were continually exposed to asbestos dust while doing jobs such as welding, pipefitting, electrical work, insulating and plumbing.
Dangers of Asbestos
When asbestos fibers lodge in your lungs, abdomen and other organs, they cause inflammation and scarring which leads to serious diseases. Asbestosis is not a cancer, but it is a progressive, long-term disease that scars your lungs and makes it hard for you to breathe. Lung cancer causes malignant tumors that obstruct your air passages. Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, malignant cancer which affects the mesothelium, the thin layer of tissue that covers your lungs, abdomen and other organs. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
Risk Factors of Asbestos Exposure
Your risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases depends on how long and how often you were exposed to asbestos, the concentration of asbestos fibers, and the shape, size and chemical makeup of the fibers. If you smoke after being exposed to asbestos fibers, your risk of lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases greatly increases. Because the danger increases with the amount of exposure, those regularly exposed to asbestos during work are most at risk. People who live with those who work with asbestos materials are also at risk, as asbestos workers can bring home fibers on their skin or in their clothes. If you live or work in an older building with asbestos-containing materials, you are generally safe unless the asbestos is stirred up through renovation, damage, wear or deterioration. If you are concerned about an asbestos problem in your home, you can call professionals to conduct tests for asbestos materials and then either make your home safe by sealing the asbestos or removing it.
After exposure to asbestos, it takes decades for asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma to develop and symptoms to appear. If you suspect you might have a disease through exposure to asbestos, see your doctor for a diagnosis, and consult a lawyer to pursue a legal claim for compensation. This information is been added for Shrader & Associates LLP, your number one choice when looking for passionate and honest lawyers who can help you! Check out their website today and see how!