By Jim Greene
on September 20, 2010
Although asbestos was banned for most construction uses in the United States in 1989, there is still plenty of it around, in buildings built before it was known to cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency’s advice is to leave it undisturbed, but, if it’s exposed, it still presents a serious health risk.
Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, an incurable terminal cancer that attacks the outer lining of the lungs, heart, and other organs and the inner lining of the chest and abdomen. It can also cause asbestosis, a progressive loss of breathing capacity due to scarring of lung tissue. Both diseases result from inhaling asbestos fibers.
Some Asbestos Uses Not Commonly Known
In homes, schools, churches, offices, stores, and other buildings, the best-known uses of asbestos were to insulate pipes carrying hot water and steam and to insulate walls. Many people are unaware that, because of its fire-resistant properties, it was also used in roofing, flooring, and exterior siding, including shingles. Some kitchen items were also made using asbestos, including hot pads, oven mitts, and even placemats.
While small household items containing asbestos can easily be removed according to proper disposal methods, the asbestos used in construction presents significant challenges.
EPA guidelines recommend careful inspection and documenting of asbestos content. If the asbestos is safely contained in walls or completely sealed by paint, plaster, stucco, or other impervious materials, the agency suggests leaving it undisturbed, since removing it could release asbestos fibers into the air.
Asbestos Removal Best Done by Professionals
When remodeling or demolition requires disturbing materials that contain asbestos, it is best done by trained and licensed asbestos abatement professionals, using techniques developed to reduce the risk of releasing the deadly fibers.
If a school or church you attend or a place in which you work is undergoing any sort of structural changes, be sure to ask for information regarding asbestos content and steps taken to ensure your safety.
If you or someone you know has developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, or any other disease that may be caused by exposure to asbestos, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Hundreds of asbestos exposure victims have received financial compensation to help them deal with medical bills and loss of income, and to help them posthumously provide for their families.
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