Asbestos is a mineral found in bundles of fiber. It is strong, resists heat and chemicals, and does not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos quickly became popular for use in building products such as insulation and roofing shingles. It was also used for friction parts of mechanical objects such as brakes and transmissions.
Unfortunately, manufacturers found that using asbestos came with a steep price for workers. According to WebMD, when asbestos is disturbed during mining or production, it releases tiny fibers. These fibers can be swallowed or inhaled into the lungs where they can cause significant health problems.
One of the most common problems is mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin lining of the lungs. Another health issue that may arise is asbestosis, a condition where asbestos irritates the lungs until they are inflamed and scarred, making breathing difficult.
Understanding mesothelioma life expectancy can be a challenge since several factors, such as age at onset, can affect the prognosis. In general, however, the National Cancer Institute estimates that the five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is only around five to ten percent.
Is My Family at Risk?
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the people most at risk for mesothelioma and asbestosis are the ones who have been exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers over many years. These people include miners, construction workers, assembly workers, and some veterans. Even among these higher-risk populations, asbestos-related diseases can take 20 to 30 years to develop.
There have been cases of a spouse developing asbestos-related diseases after a worker carried asbestos fibers into the home on his or her clothing. Again, the exposure happened over a long period of time.
Asbestos Exposure in the Home
If your home was constructed in the 1980s or later, it is unlikely that any part of it contains asbestos. Even if your home was constructed before or during the 1970s, you don’t necessarily need to be in a rush to have the asbestos removed.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos that isn’t damaged or disturbed does not pose a significant health risk to your family.
However, if your pre-1970s home is not in good condition – e.g., damaged or torn insulation, damaged steam pipes, furnace ducts or boilers or sound proofing spray that is damaged or water-logged – you may have a problem. Stay away from these questionable areas, and keep the rest of your family away as well, until you have had a chance to consult with a contractor who specializes in asbestos repair and removal.
If your home contains asbestos and you are planning to restore or remodel it, you should also work with an experienced contractor. Even simple acts like sawing, sanding and scraping can release asbestos fibers into the air where they can cause health problems for you and your family.
Final Thoughts on Your Family and Asbestos Exposure
We all come into contact with small amounts of asbestos every day, and most of us are not the worse for wear from it. Asbestos can, however, be dangerous if exposure is prolonged. For your family’s sake, consider selecting newer housing when you are in the market for a home. If you prefer to live in an older building, keep a close eye on asbestos products to see that they are not damaged or degraded.
A little planning and vigilance on your part can keep you and your family safe from dangerous exposure to asbestos.
This article was contributed on behalf of Shrader & Associates, your number one choice when looking for information regarding new mesothelioma treatment options. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!
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