Older homes often contain building materials that have been made with asbestos. These asbestos-laden materials often look just like modern-day products on the market that are safe to use. However, materials that contain asbestos are not safe at all–in fact, they are quite dangerous. If they are not handled properly, products that contain asbestos can cause serious health problems for you and your family.
History and Uses
Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that has the ability to effectively resist heat and chemicals. Before people found out asbestos could cause cancer and other illnesses, building material manufacturers incorporated it into many types of products. For example, they mixed asbestos with cement and plastics to make them stronger, and it was also used to make floor and ceiling tiles, wall insulation, roof and siding shingles and to wrap heating ducts, water pipes. Although the government banned the use of asbestos in building materials in the 1970s because of the dangers it posed to human beings, it can still be found in many of today’s older homes and building structures.
Whenever products made with asbestos disintegrate as they age, or whenever they are moved, touched or disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers can be released into the air and then inhaled into your lungs. Although you may not notice for a long time, they can stay there for years. Eventually those fibers can cause inflammation, irritation and scarring in your soft tissues. All of those things can make it hard to breath and lead to severe health troubles, issues and concerns.
Health experts have categorized asbestos as a human carcinogen. It has been proven that asbestos exposure can lead to not only lung cancer, but it can also cause mesothelioma, a severe type of cancer that negatively affects the linings of the abdomen, chest cavity and lungs. Malignant mesothelioma treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. Although treatment options usually depend on the stage of cancer and your individual health situation, most doctors recommend utilizing several of those options at once or even several of those options sequentially. Asbestos exposure has also been linked to other debilitating illnesses such as asbestosis, a condition which permanently damages lungs and causes coughing and difficulty in breathing.
What to Do
It is extremely hard to tell if a material contains asbestos unless you are an asbestos expert. If you suspect it is in your home or in a building you frequent, be sure not to touch, move or disturb it in any way. Instead, if you plan to remodel an area that may contain asbestos, or see a product that might contain asbestos that has been damaged, or if you want to move a material that may contain asbestos, before you do anything else, make sure to call a company that specializes in asbestos for advice and tips. Professional asbestos contractors will be able to recognize it by testing it under a microscope. If removal or repair is needed, they are licensed, trained and certified to do it safely, without any risk to you or your loved ones. If you do not own the building and think a material might contain asbestos, tell the building manager or owner to check it out right away.
This article was contributed on behalf of Shrader & Associates, the number one choice for Navy Veterans as they may have been exposed to asbestos. Check out their website today and see how they can help you.