Since the late 1800s, asbestos has been used in construction practices for its fire-resistance ability. During World War II, the use of asbestos increased drastically in a number of industries. It provided excellent benefits for insulation, fireproofing, and sound absorption. It is still used for a number of things like vehicle brakes and clutch shoes. In the 1970’s, it was discovered that asbestos poses a number of serious health risks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started banning the use of asbestos in the construction industry, particular in the use of residential and commercial buildings.
Where is Asbestos Found?
Asbestos can be found in many older homes within the roofing tiles, insulation materials, flooring materials, and within household appliances. Since the 1970’s, the only asbestos fibers used are chrysotile fibres. They are approved by the EPA and often found in appliances to provide them with a better resistance against heat. It is also found in some insulation materials as it does help to resist heat and cold air. The approved form of asbestos does not pose a risk of inhalation like previous forms of asbestos did. Excessive exposure to the dust fibers is what causes the serious health risks, and promoted the EPA to ban its use in construction and other industries.
Risk of Asbestos Inhalation
The majority of homeowners are safe, but there are some older homes that pose health risks. If you live in an older home with materials used before the 1970’s, there is a good chance they contain asbestos. Asbestos usually will not cause a problem until it is disturbed. It is important to follow proper safety protocol when removing asbestos from the home to prevent inhalation. It is wise to contact a professional for asbestos removal as they have the right equipment and safety gear to properly remove it from the home. While most people are not at-risk for asbestos exposure, excessive exposure is dangerous to your health. A home remodel where you remove the old “popcorn ceiling” and insulation material can be deemed as excessive exposure.
Health Concerns and Asbestos
There are several health risks related to asbestos exposure. The small asbestos fibers are inhaled when they are disturbed. They will become trapped inside the lungs, and the body is unable to get rid of them. Most people will not start developing symptoms for at least 15 years after initial exposure. It depends on the severity of the exposure to asbestos as it could occur sooner. The trapped fibers will cause scarring and inflammation in the lungs. This will leave to difficulties breathing and a decreased lung capacity. Several studies by the EPA and other organizations have shown that exposure to asbestos will drastically increase your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure not only increases the risk of lung cancer, it can increase the risk of cancer to several other areas of the body including; kidneys, esophagus, throat, and gallbladder. The other thing asbestos exposure will do is increase your risk of asbestosis. This condition will cause coughing, permanent lung damage, and shortness of breath. Pleural plaques and other nonmalignant lung disorders can occur as a result of asbestos exposure. It is important to speak to your doctor about asbestos exposure so they can run diagnostic testing to determine if you are experiencing any symptoms related to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.