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What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the generic name given to a group of minerals that tend to break down into a dust of microscopic fibers. Its superior durability and resistance to heat have made it a staple in literally thousands of building components. Manufacturers have voluntarily limited the use of asbestos, but it is still common in older buildings.
Where is asbestos found?
It can be found in just about any building constructed before 1980. Some items containing asbestos in your home include older duct tape, floor tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles or covering, roofing materials, exterior siding, insulation, fireproof boards and flues around wood burning stoves, and some appliances including toasters, broilers, slow cookers, waffle irons, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
Are asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is generally not harmful in its natural state. In production, asbestos was typically reduced to a “friable” state – small, brittle fibers. Fine asbestos dust is a by-product of friable asbestos. Inhaled microscopic fibers remain in the body forever and are impossible to remove. It damages lung tissue when inhaled during consistent, long-term exposure, causing “asbestosis,” progressively limiting lung capacity and function. In extreme cases, it can cause mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that is most often fatal. Symptoms generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years after the exposure.
What other health effects are there?
Asbestos is also known to cause bowel cancer and noncancerous lung diseases. If you're a smoker, the risk of developing lung cancer is five times greater.
When was asbestos found to be a health hazard?
Although there was anecdotal information available for centuries that indicated health problems associated with long-term exposure to asbestos, no definitive evidence about asbestos danger was forthcoming until the mid-20th century. Preliminary studies in the 1940s and 1950s caused concern. Scientific proof was established in the early 1960s.
Who needs to be examined for exposure?
Individuals exposed to asbestos on the job, through their home, during their military service or through a family member, should be contact a physician regarding their asbestos exposure. A physical examination, including chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests of the lungs may be recommended to determine markers of asbestos exposure.
I may have been exposed to asbestos. Will I get sick?
If you were exposed to asbestos it does not mean that you have an asbestos-caused disease. However, you should see your doctor. Symptoms can develop as long as 30 years after an initial exposure to asbestos. That is why it's so important to visit your doctor immediately if you believe you have the symptoms of an asbestos-related disease. You should also contact an attorney at Younce & Vtipil to understand what compensation you might be entitled to if you do have an asbestos-related illness.
Is there a cure for asbestos-related disease?
No cure exists for asbestosis or other lung or pleural diseases caused by chronic exposure to asbestos. Treatments are available, however, to help remove any cancer that may be present and to reduce the symptoms of asbestos-related disease. Staying healthy can help minimize health complications later on.
Who is responsible for asbestos being on the market?
Asbestos became a major industry early in the 20th century. It was a common product, in great demand and widely used for decades. The carcinogenic properties were not known. As soon as definitive medical evidence of serious health risk was confirmed, governments around the world initiated action to prevent asbestos use and exposure. The EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers during building demolition or renovation projects.
How many people have been harmed by asbestos?
An exact number may never be known. Millions have been exposed, and many workers were exposed to high concentrations of asbestos over many years in certain work places. These are the most at risk. Though reports of new cases of mesothelioma have declined to less than 2,500 annually and will continue to decline in coming years, latency periods for some types of asbestos harm are still unknown, and at least minimal new case reports are anticipated for several more years.
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