5 Ways You Can Be Exposed to Asbestos
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral found in rocks and soils. It was a prominent material used for fireproofing, soundproofing, making bricks, concrete, pipes, flooring, and insulations. Here in America, it was mined until the 1970s and was commonly used until the late 1980s. At present, there’s still no complete ban over its use. It’s still in many types of insulation and some household items. Recently, asbestos was found in some baby powders, children’s crayons and toys, and cosmetics.
What Are The Health Risks Of Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos in its impacted form is mainly safe. If its fibers get into the air for some reason, we can inhale or ingest it, and then it stays in our system. That’s when it becomes a health threat. The problem is asbestos-related health concerns crop up after a prolonged and repeated exposure to its fibers. It can take 20-40 years before the symptoms appear.
It can cause different kinds of cancer: lung, ovarian, throat, kidney, GI tract, and mesothelioma – a specific type of cancer caused by asbestos. It can also cause asbestosis, a chronic lung disease caused by lung tissue scarring.
5 Ways You Can Be Exposed
Our mere senses cannot detect asbestos in the air, and we may inhale or ingest it unknowingly. Here are some ways you may be exposed to it:
Proximity To A Mine
Since asbestos is naturally present underground, any mine may disturb its fibers and introduce it into the open. Coal mining was deemed dangerous in the past, and it remains so now. The mining industry has put generations of workers at risk for asbestos-related diseases, including cancer.
Even coal miners today are still at risk of asbestos exposure. Incidentally, wind can carry these microscopic fibers from these mines (specifically, open-pit mines) and become an invisible pollutant to a nearby town or city.
This happened in 2009 in Libby, Montana, where a public health emergency was declared after hundreds of miners died. Libby residents also got sick from the toxic dust from the vermiculite mines nearby.
Most houses built before the late 1980s had enormous amounts of asbestos on them. While intact, it shouldn’t be an issue. But with wear and tear and renovation, asbestos fibers can be introduced into the air. Even for buildings constructed after the 1980s, asbestos may still be present in some forms. It may have been used in roofing, insulation around furnaces, vinyl and tile flooring, textured paint, and door gaskets.
It’s best to do asbestos testing before you start knocking down walls or tacking some remodeling projects.
Auto mechanics are exposed to a variety of hazards every day. Asbestos is one of them. You may not realize it, but asbestos is present in brake pads and linings, clutches, and gasket materials. Cleaning or replacing these parts may release asbestos fibers into the air. As a result, they are at a high risk of occupational asbestos exposure.
Long-term exposure to asbestos can lead to asbestosis and other lung and pleural diseases.
Fire Retardant Fabrics
Asbestos can easily be woven into fabrics. This is true for textiles that need to be resistant to high temperatures, flames, and corrosive substances. Examples of this would be jackets for firefighters and aprons, and gloves used in glass workshops and metal works. Within the household, asbestos fibers may be present in some carpeting, potholders, and ironing board.
If you have prolonged exposure to any of these types of fabrics, you may be at risk.
Building Damage and Collapse
The government has a system in place to deal with asbestos before and after building demolition. However, for incidental building damage or collapse, this can become a significant concern.
If your home gets damaged due to natural disasters (i.e., earthquake, hurricane, etc.) or even natural wear and tear, it may release asbestos fibers into the air. It’s best to check for asbestos when your house or building gets damaged for any reason.
How Can You Be Protected?
Get your home tested for asbestos, especially when you’re planning to renovate, remodel, or repair. Remember that it can cause different kinds of cancers and chronic lung problems, which you wouldn’t want for you or your loved ones.
With Certified IAQ Professionals, we can provide excellent care at affordable prices, ensuring that the air that you breathe within your home is safe. Call us at 303-995-7015 to discuss our asbestos testing services for Broomfield, Boulder, Arvada, Westminster, CO, and surrounding areas.