13 Surprising Asbestos Facts That You Likely Did Not Know

Most of us have by this point have heard of asbestos and know that it is harmful and somehow connected to the disease known as mesothelioma. Some of us may even know that asbestos can be found in common everyday items like insulation, tiles, drywall, and roofing materials. However, this is often the extent of the general population’s knowledge of this harmful element. Many cases originate from workplace exposure to asbestos before federal laws regulating it were enacted in the mid-1970s.

This disease takes years to develop and can be life-threatening. The total number of asbestos-related deaths in the United States may exceed 200,000 by the year 2030, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. To help increase the awareness for this disease and the naturally occurring element that causes it, here are some little-known facts about asbestos that the vast majority of people today do not know:

  • Asbestos is a natural element that can be found in nature and there are several different types of asbestos that someone can be exposed to. This difference is what makes some more hazardous than others, but all asbestos has the potential to be detrimental to human health.
  • Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, which all have in common their eponymous asbestiform habit: i.e. long, thin fibrous crystals, with each visible fiber composed of millions of microscopic “fibrils” that can be released by abrasion and other processes.
  • When someone inhales asbestos fibers, some of the small fibers make it into the lungs where they become lodged. With prolonged exposure or an exposure to a high concentration of asbestos, the amount in the lungs build up to the point it can cause cancer and mesothelioma.
  • According to the EPA, Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods. Mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.
  • Asbestos fibers cause damage to the cells of the lungs and the cells weaken and die, which affects lung functions. In rare cases other parts of the body such as the heart are also affected by the asbestos fibers and a secondary form of mesothelioma can develop.
  • There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The potential for damage to be done to the body is present with a single exposure and that risk only becomes increasingly compounded with every repeat exposure and buildup.
  • Asbestos-containing materials that aren’t damaged or disturbed are not likely to pose a health risk. Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos-containing material alone if it is in good condition. Generally, asbestos-containing material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed will not release asbestos fibers” (EPA).
  • Smoking, combined with asbestos exposure, can greatly increases the chances for someone developing lung cancer. Smoking alone will not cause mesothelioma but it will weaken the lungs and make them more susceptible to asbestos fibers that are inhaled and make mesothelioma more likely.
  • Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed years after the exposure to asbestos happened. In some cases, mesothelioma does not appear for more than 40 or 50 years. This makes is difficult to diagnose because doctors may not immediately connect the symptoms to an exposure that happened so long ago.
  • “The human health effects from long-term unsafe asbestos exposure are well documented. Asbestos fibers are easily inhaled and carried into the lower regions of the lung where they can cause fibrotic lung disease (asbestosis) and changes in the lining of the chest cavity (pleura)” (OSHA).
  • Many surprising jobs and careers can put people at risk for asbestos exposure- teachers, doctors, librarians, construction workers, landscapers, welders, plumbers, firefighters, demolition crew, and even law officials. And their family members are also at risk from second hand exposure to asbestos as well.
  • Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the U.S. The number of mesothelioma cases has been increasing in recent decades and though in mot regard the use of asbestos has been greatly reduced or totally eliminated instances of mesothelioma are still developing.
  • “Asbestosis can’t be cured. However, there are a few treatments that can help control or reduce symptoms. Prescription inhalers may help loosen congestion in your lungs. Supplemental oxygen..can help if you have difficulty breathing… treatments also involve preventing the disease from getting worse” (HealthLine).

To learn more about the risks associated with asbestos exposure and what it can mean for you and your family, contact us today. If you have questions about a possible asbestos exposure case we can review everything with you and give you guidance on what options are legally available to you. Call today and we will help you get the compensation you and your family deserve!