The Existing Risk of Asbestos

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Risk of Asbestos

Understanding Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural fiber-like substance which has been for both commercial and industrial purposes. The usage was at its peak between the 1940 through 1970s, until its deadliness caused it to become banned in many countries around the world.  It was often used for giving structural strength to building materials. It was also used highly sought after because of its fire-retardant properties, as well as its insulation efficiency for heat and noise.

Banned or Restricted

The use of asbestos has been highly restricted. This is not to say that asbestos usage has completely ceased. It might be shocking to know that it is still being used all over the US. You can currently find it new products such as brake pads, certain types of tile, drywall, sheeting, roofing, insulation, and several other home-building and automotive purposes. Regulatory bodies have not banned asbestos despite its harmful and even deadly effects. They have simply restricted its use. This is a startling fact considering its deadly implications.

Air-Borne Risk

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When damaged or disturbed, asbestos containing materials release microscopic fibers which become air-borne. These fibers cannot be seen with the naked eye, as they are very small in size. Once airborne, they enter into the lungs leading to respiratory illness, and may even cause lung cancer or mesothelioma. Symptoms may not always be obvious at first, but as time passes, the harmful effect to the lungs may be irreversible and deadly.

Millions Affected

A surprising number of people are affected by asbestos in numerous ways. Even more alarming is that those exposed to asbestos do not even realize that they are in contact with this substance. Many older homes were built using materials containing asbestos. This silent risk may still quite literally be lurking in your walls. Similarly many workplaces still contain asbestos, exposing around 1.3 million workers every day to this toxic material. Although the usage of asbestos is restricted to a certain extent, it can still be found all around.

Products You Use

Asbestos can be frequently found in older structures, especially older homes and workplaces. It is commonly found in old insulation, cement, floor tiles, furnaces, and even water pipes. However, it is important to realize that it was also used commonly in many other consumer products. It can be found in products ranging from older toys to textiles, such as curtains. These are only some examples; the extent of use of asbestos containing-materials was vast, and even now can likely be found in many more places and things around your home.

The Real Danger

When these materials or products are in good shape, they do not pose much danger. However, the real trouble starts when any of these materials are broken, damaged, or disturbed. When asbestos fiber dissolves into the air and ultimately reaches your body through breathing, this can lead to serious and deadly illness. A material is deemed as unsafe when there is more than 1% asbestos present in it. Keep in mind that the risk of exposure also increases tremendously when one is renovating or repairing a house, especially an older one. In this case, the chances of damaging an asbestos containing material are very high. It is advised to get this work done with the help of a certified expert in this field. Do not ignore broken tile, damaged roofing, or other problem areas in the home. Immediately call an expert to check for asbestos. Do not attempt to fix the problem yourself. Many times, if asbestos containing materials are properly sealed and contained by an expert, the exposure risk can be mitigated.

Staying Safe

It is an undeniable fact that asbestos is a real and present threat to those that come in contact with it. Some ways to minimize exposure risk include checking and testing if the materials you are using are free of asbestos. The complete information of the product is given in the instruction list which comes along with it. Thoroughly read the instructions before buying the product. It is equally important to make sure that asbestos-containing materials are free of any damage. Asbestos becomes very dangerous only when it is airborne. Be sure the materials used to build your home do not have excess of asbestos. You can have a professional evaluate the amount of asbestos that is currently present in your home. If any asbestos product is damaged, immediately contact the local health department. They will readily send a certified contractor to deal with the problem. Never try to fix damaged materials yourself, even if the damage is small. It is also important to collect samples of asbestos throughout your home using the guidelines of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Always keep children away from any damaged materials, and teach them about the harmful effects of asbestos.

Have you been exposed to asbestos at home or at work? Please leave your comments below:

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