The use of asbestos in products ended several decades ago, but it is still very possible that you may come across it, particularly in older homes or buildings. It is very likely that any house built before the 1980s still contains some products with asbestos in them. Therefore, if you plan on completing work on your home, you should be aware of what to do in the event you come across asbestos.
Some Background on Asbestos
Asbestos was widely used in a significant number of products until the 1970s when it was publicly recognized that exposure to asbestos fibers was dangerous. While most products manufactured today do not contain asbestos, it still may be found in many places. Some of the products that asbestos was used in include, but are not limited to:
1. Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts;
2. Soundproofing material that was sprayed on walls and ceilings;
3. Patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings;
4. Resilient floor tiles, backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile;
5. Brake pads, clutches, mufflers and gaskets in older vehicles; and
6. Significant amounts of insulation material.
Before the dangers of asbestos fibers were known, asbestos was used frequently because it provided excellent strength and fire resistance, among other versatile features. Unfortunately, the long-term risks of exposure to asbestos far outweigh the potential beneficial uses of it.
The Danger of Asbestos
It is important to note that asbestos, itself, is not dangerous. The danger comes from microscopic asbestos fibers that are released into the air and breathed into the lungs. Breathing any level of asbestos fibers for any period of time may lead to an increased risk of the development of either lung cancer, mesothelioma or other type of cancer.
Asbestos that is damaged is more vulnerable to releasing these fibers, especially if it is hit, rubbed, handled, or exposed to vibration or air flow. Asbestos that is damaged may be repaired or removed entirely, which should be done by a person specifically trained in the handling of asbestos. Repairing asbestos involves sealing or covering it. If you come across what you believe to possibly be asbestos, it is best to leave it alone and have it inspected by a professional. Remember that you will not be able to see if fibers have been released into the air because they are microscopic.
Today, we know that exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to significant health consequences. While the use of asbestos in new products has almost ended, there are still many older products still in use today that contain it. Limited exposure may increase health risks, so it is still advisable to avoid handling asbestos altogether.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe it developed as the result of exposure to asbestos fibers, contact the experienced attorneys at the Throneberry Law Group.