What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was incorporated into more than 5,000 products in the 1980’s. This mineral has excellent insulating and fireproofing characteristics which is why it was commonly used for commercial purposes. This toxic mineral can be found in various deposits throughout the world; the environmental hazard surrounding asbestos still exists today.
Where has it been used?
As previously mentioned, asbestos has been used in thousands of products. Some of these products include household items, paper goods, automobiles, heating and cooling systems, and even in the construction materials used to possibly build your house. The majority of these materials are commonly found in construction materials used to in buildings and homes. Asbestos has such a high resistance to heat it was used in many heating systems and insulation. High concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after these materials are disturbed by improperly trying to remove the materials or a remodeling project.
Why is it toxic?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Due to a severe latency period of symptoms ranging between 20 and 50 years from the time of exposure, mesothelioma cancer is often diagnosed in a late stage of development.
This tendency for late diagnosis often complicates mesothelioma treatment options; as a result, the average mesothelioma life expectancy is 4 to 18 months. There is no cure for this cancer; but, some patients who were diagnosed early enough have survived mesothelioma. For this reason, it is important for anyone exposed to asbestos to seek regular medical exams to check for signs of asbestos disease.
The best way to prevent exposure to asbestos is to learn about it, however regardless of the knowledge that is now available, not everyone takes the proper precautions that are needed to prevent exposure. Prevention in the workplace can be as simple as wearing protective gear or breathing devices. Since so many homes were built with asbestos containing products, the majority of household exposure comes from renovations, or do-it-yourself home projects. Once the asbestos is disturbed you are at risk for exposure, so it is important to have professionals involved, or the areas tested for asbestos in advance.
The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com was created to assist patients affected by asbestos-related disease. Visit www.asbestos.com for more information regarding asbestos exposure. You can “like” us on Face book and “Follow” us on Twitter for daily updates and news articles surrounding asbestos and asbestos related diseases.
• John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
• Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
• Microshield Environmental Services, LLC