Did you know that asbestos is still used in building materials? It’s true. Asbestos was once thought to be a great insulator and fire retardant, but it also causes lung disease when fibers become airborne during the demolition or renovation of older buildings.
Asbestos can be found in wallboard, insulation, flooring, siding, ceiling tiles, roof shingles, textured paints, cement pipes, and other construction materials.If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance the following materials contain some asbestos: vinyl floor tile, old plaster walls (especially those with a lathe), popcorn ceilings, and possibly even roof shingles. If any of these materials need to be removed from your house for repair or renovation, it is important to hire skilled professionals who are properly equipped for such work. Asbestos fibers stuck in an open wound or inhaled into the body can cause serious health problems such as mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that can affect the lungs, abdomen, heart, and other body parts. Asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure can cause microscopic fibrous particles lodged inside the thin membrane surrounding organs, eventually developing into cancer.
It is important to get an appropriate diagnosis for mesothelioma, as it is a fatal disease with no known cure. Most people who suffer asbestos exposure do not develop the disease until many years after their initial exposure. The only treatment available is palliative care which aims to improve the quality of life by reducing pain and slowing disease progression. Mesothelioma patients should seek the best doctor to help them receive care.
Potential risks associated with being exposed to asbestos
1. Breathing in Asbestos
This is the most common way people are harmed by inhaling asbestos fibers. When the fibers become airborne, they can easily be breathed into the lungs, where they become trapped and start to break down. This process causes scarring to occur in the tissue around the airways, causing inflammation and narrowing. Over time, this creates breathing difficulties and shortness of breath.
2. Touching asbestos
Sometimes, people will come into contact with asbestos and touch their face or another part of their body without washing their hands. They may think nothing of it since they did not inhale the fibers. However, if someone comes into contact with asbestos and does not wash their hands, they could bring the fibers onto their skin. These fibers can become embedded under the fingernails or even inside the eyes.
3. Eating asbestos
Asbestos is commonly used in building materials like cement pipes and cement products. Even though you cannot eat these things directly, you can indirectly ingest them if the dust from handling them gets onto your food. Unfortunately, some people have died from eating asbestos-contaminated food, for instance, taking a bite of a sandwich made with bread cut from a baguette contaminated with asbestos dust. This leads to asbestos poisoning and abdominal mesothelioma.
4. Drinking asbestos
The same thing can happen with drinking water if you live near a mine or factory that contains asbestos. The fibers can enter your water supply and make their way into your digestive system, irritating the bowels and stomach. Some people have even developed cancer from consuming asbestos-tainted water.
How to clean and protect your home
If you’re concerned about the risk of asbestos in your home, here are a few tips to help keep your family safe from these deadly fibers.
1. Read material safety data sheets (MSDS)
Before you begin any home renovation project, it is vital to read the MSDS sheets that come with any building materials you plan to use. Each sheet provides detailed information regarding the toxicity and safety of the product. Be sure to carefully review each item’s MSDS sheet to determine whether it is suitable for use in your home.
2. Use caution around asbestos
When working around areas that might contain asbestos, be sure to wear a mask or respirator that filters the air. Also, avoid touching the area with bare hands. Wearing gloves is always recommended, even though it may seem inconvenient. It is better to be careful than to risk getting sick. You can also purchase special disposable plastic bags from most hardware stores to use when working with materials that may contain asbestos. Be sure to dispose of these bags in a sealed garbage bin outside your home immediately upon completion of work.
3. Wear protective clothing
Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes when working around areas that contain asbestos. Always cover your clothes before entering a room containing asbestos. Don’t forget to put on your protective clothing and remove all traces of the material before leaving the job site. It’s also a good idea to wear a dust mask over your nose and mouth.
4. Properly dispose of asbestos waste
Any asbestos waste must be disposed of according to the law. Asbestos waste is classified as hazardous in the United States and must be handled according to federal regulations. If you are unsure how to safely dispose of asbestos, consult a local government agency or professional disposal company. Protect yourself, don’t handle any asbestos debris on your own.
5. Never attempt to remove asbestos yourself
Never attempt to remove asbestos yourself. Only a licensed contractor or professional demolition team should ever attempt to remove asbestos materials from your home. The health risks of removing asbestos are too great and must be taken seriously. Asbestos removal is a dangerous job that requires proper training and the right equipment.
Although asbestos has been banned in over 50 countries, it is still legal to use in many other parts of the world. Unfortunately, the dangers of asbestos exposure have not been fully understood until now. If you have concerns about the presence of asbestos in your home, do not hesitate to call a licensed professional specializing in asbestos abatement to examine the situation. While there’s no guarantee that every building contains asbestos, it is better to be safe than sorry.