Asbestos is a natural mineral, once commonly used in home and commercial construction. However, it was discovered that exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to serious health problems, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. While the use of asbestos has been banned in many countries, it can still be found in older homes, offices, and public buildings. Learn the dangers of asbestos exposure and whether you should have your home checked for asbestos.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is comprised of six fibrous minerals that occur naturally in the environment. Chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite are the most commonly used types of asbestos. Asbestos fibers are practically microscopic and can be easily inhaled or swallowed, causing serious health problems. Exposure to asbestos can occur in two ways — primary and secondary exposure. Primary exposure occurs when people work with asbestos products, such as construction workers, plumbers, electricians, and shipyard workers. Secondary exposure occurs when people come into contact with someone who has been exposed to asbestos, such as family members of asbestos workers.
Dangers of Asbestos Exposure:
Asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Asbestosis is a severe and chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers over time. It can take years or even decades for the symptoms to appear in many people. People with asbestosis often experience shortness of breath, dry cough, and chest pain. A major concern regarding asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, which is a rare, aggressive form of cancer. It affects the lining of the lungs, chest, and abdomen. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and fluid buildup in the lungs. Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure is similar to lung cancer caused by smoking. It can take years for the symptoms to appear, and it often spreads quickly.
Should You Have Your Home Checked for Asbestos?
If your home was built several decades ago, there is a chance that it contains asbestos. Asbestos was commonly used in home insulation, vinyl floor tiles, and ceiling tiles. If these materials are in good condition and not disturbed, they are unlikely to cause asbestos exposure. However, if you are planning to do any renovations or construction work, you should have your home checked for asbestos. It is best to hire a licensed asbestos inspector to test your home for asbestos. If asbestos is found, it should be removed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.
Prevention of Asbestos Exposure:
The best way to prevent asbestos exposure is to avoid contact with asbestos-containing materials. If you work with asbestos or in an environment where asbestos fibers may be present, it is important to wear protective clothing, such as respirators, gloves, and disposable coveralls. You should also shower and change your clothes before leaving the work site to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers. If you live in an older home or work in an older building, you should be aware of the risks of asbestos exposure and take precautions to prevent exposure.
For more info about asbestos exposure, contact a local company.