Despite the fact that the use of asbestos has been severely restricted in the United States for the last few decades, the dangerous mineral is still present in many aspects of our lives. If you work, live, or spend any time in a building that was built prior to the 1980s, there is a very good chance that asbestos was used in some aspect of its construction, and if the asbestos is undisturbed and unexposed, it does not present a major risk. But if you are planning any kind of demolition work or renovation, or if for some reason the hidden asbestos becomes exposed then it is likely to break down into dust particles that can be inhaled or ingested, putting you at risk of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
Asbestos Causes Deadly Diseases
Asbestos is a mineral that is found in nature and which has been used for a number of purposes for centuries, but in the mid-1930s suspicions began to be raised that the product was causing serious health problems for those that were exposed to it, and by the mid-1960s the scientific community had proven without a doubt that it was the sole cause of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that appears as late as several decades after exposure to asbestos and which is invariably fatal. Asbestos fibers become embedded in the cells of the lining of the lungs or the abdomen and cause cell death and mutations that eventually grow into diffuse tumors that encase organs and spread to other parts of the body.
The employees that worked with asbestos during its heyday were never informed of its dangers, although their employers and the suppliers that were responsible for exposing them to the dangerous toxin were aware of the risk of serious illness, and in many cases hid that information in order to protect their profits. Asbestos use has been banned in many countries around the world, and in the United States its use is restricted to those industries that had been using it for many years. But that doesn’t mean that the public is now safe from its risks. Asbestos is still present in our environment, and people need to be aware of its dangers and the correct way to manage asbestos if they become aware of it.
Leave Asbestos to Professionals
If you find that there is asbestos insulation or other materials present in your home, whether in the materials that make up your roof, your insulation, your ceiling or flooring, or anywhere else, exercise extreme caution. Do not attempt to remove or even to cover the material yourself. There are special asbestos abatement companies that are trained and licensed to provide the maximum environmental protection, and they are able to determine the best way to either remove the product without exposing inhabitants or passersby to asbestos dust, or to completely close it off so that it won’t enter the air at all.
Municipal Building Present Asbestos Risks
Many office buildings and public buildings such as schools and hospitals were built during the era that asbestos was commonly used, and it is not at all unlikely that the product was applied for the purpose of providing an extra layer of fire or heat insulation. The fact that it was later determined that asbestos was dangerous posed a quandary that many municipalities have faced, and those that have ignored the problem have been challenged by teachers and employees in those buildings that have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Buildings like schools and office buildings where it’s known that asbestos is present are required to have contingency plans in place to ensure that the material is intact and that there is a plan in place for what to do if it starts to break down or is exposed. These plans should always involve trained and license professionals who know the dangers and details of asbestos exposure.
Natural Disasters Can Expose Hidden Asbestos
Buildings that contain asbestos that are struck by natural disasters, whether those are earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes or flood, present particularly challenging problems. When a house is demolished as a result of a natural event, the asbestos that had previously been hidden and contained is suddenly exposed and likely to be spread throughout the community. It is very important that recovery workers are aware of the risks of asbestos and that the product is contained as quickly as possible in order to prevent what has already been a bad situation from becoming a tragedy that continues to manifest itself for decades.
Another issue of concern is the fact that first responders like firemen antemberd paramedics are often at risk of asbestos exposure as they enter buildings in search of victims. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that much of the protective gear that they wear may contain asbestos for their own protection.
September 11th and Asbestos
One recent example of a tragic event made worse by the presence of asbestos can be found in the events of September 11th, when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center. Those buildings contained tremendous quanities of asbestos that were released into the atmostphere of lower Manhattan when the buildings fell. First responders working to recover victims, residents of the area, and employees escaping from the building were suddenly exposed to tremendous quantities of asbestos dust, and many people reported asbestos-related illnesses since that exposure
There is great concern that the number of victims from 9/11 will continue to rise as those who were exposed to asbestos are sickened over the next several decades.