Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance classified as a naturally occurring mineral fiber found in rock and soil. In the 1800s, asbestos became a highly sought-after and valuable commodity recognized for its resistance to heat, chemical, and electrical corrosion. Furthermore, asbestos was cheap and easy to mine, making it a highly profitable commodity. Famed for its fireproofing, insulating, and soundproofing qualities, asbestos became known as the “miracle mineral.” As a result, asbestos was mined throughout the 1800s and 1900s, widely used in the production of a number of goods and building materials including insulation and cement, used in residential construction, school construction, commercial buildings, and the building of infrastructure across the country.
A Short Asbestos History Lesson
The Rise of Asbestos Mining and Manufacturing
As asbestos mining and manufacturing became rampant in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, asbestos miners and those who worked directly with asbestos in manufacturing plants became increasingly ill, which increased concern for the use of asbestos. As asbestos miners and workers continued becoming sick and dying as a result of their illnesses, it was determined that inhaling asbestos fibers could, in fact, cause a number of respiratory and other illnesses, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Therefore, by the 1970s, the use of asbestos-based products declined significantly as government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (ASHA) were created to limit the production of, and exposure to, such toxic pollutants. While the use of asbestos was largely discontinued by the 1980s, it can still be found in various homes, buildings, materials, products, and natural formations throughout the United States. Even though there are strict restrictions in place for the use of asbestos in American manufacturing and production today, the U.S. has not completely banned the use of this toxic material, although these limitations are subject to change in the future. Even with restrictions in place, unfortunately, asbestos still poses severe health risks to people exposed to this fibrous mineral.
How Asbestos Affects The Body
Asbestos becomes hazardous when it is disturbed or damaged in some way, causing it to become airborne as an air pollutant that can be inhaled. Once the asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation, they may become lodged in the tissue linings of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The body has difficulty expelling these fibers and as they settle in the body’s system, they cause a number of negative effects on the body over time, including inflammation and scarring, and may develop into different types of cancers as they affect the development and function of cells.
Five Common Places To Find Asbestos
Because asbestos remains a very real threat to people living and working in places across the U.S. that may contain asbestos, it is important to recognize the most common areas where asbestos may be found in the hopes of preventing exposure to this toxic material. Below are five of the most common places where asbestos may be lurking in your home, business, and other structures.
Because asbestos is characteristically strong, durable, and resistant to heat, chemicals, and friction, it became a choice material for creating insulation for a number of building features. This is especially the case for homes, commercial, and public buildings built between World War II up through the 1980s. Asbestos may be found in residential and commercial insulation in attics, walls, basements, and heating elements such as pipes, boilers, HVAC ducts, electrical wiring.
Roofing, Asbestos Shingles, and Cement Shingles
Prized for its heat resistant and insulating properties, asbestos was used in the production of a number of roofing materials after 1900. Because standard wood roofing shingles are highly flammable, asbestos became a choice roofing product beginning in the late 1800s. In fact, asbestos became the most sought-after roofing material additive for making shingles, asphalt mixtures for cement-based shingles, tars, caulking, and even roof venting systems.
Along with becoming a popular roofing material additive, asbestos siding became highly popular between the 1920s and 1980s, and can still be found in the siding of older homes across the country. Asbestos was added to cement that would be used with siding shingles and pressed into the exterior walls of homes. The addition of asbestos to siding made homes more fire resistant, insulated, and made an ideal surface for painting. What’s more, spray-on asbestos products were commonly used on both exterior and interior surfaces of homes, buildings, commercial spaces, and industrial buildings in addition to the siding. Whether for fire-proofing, sound-proofing, or insulation purposes, this was a common practice among builders between the 1950s and 1980s.
Asbestos cement pipes grew in popularity during the 1930s because the addition of asbestos in cement created a highly durable material also resistant to wear from corrosion. As municipal water systems were installed throughout the United States during this time, asbestos cement pipes became a top-choice for a more durable pipe that could last up to seventy years or more. While state and local governments have worked to remove and replace asbestos cement pipes over the past few decades, these dangerous pipes may still be in use.
Ceilings and Walls
Asbestos may be found in different textured paint and patching materials used on ceilings and walls in homes and other buildings. Spray-on textured ceiling materials such as the popular popcorn ceiling texture was widely used in homes between the 1950s and 1980s. While The Clean Air Act of 1978 banned spray-on asbestos products such as this, they continued to be used well into the 80s and remain in homes and buildings today. Unfortunately, popcorn ceilings are easily damaged, making them quite dangerous for easily releasing asbestos when disturbed.
Contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC Mesothelioma Attorneys
These are just some of the most common places where asbestos may be lurking in your home, office, building, and elsewhere. If you have been exposed to asbestos at work, in your building, or in other areas, the negligent party may and should be held responsible. If you or a loved believe you have developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, you may be entitled to financial compensation for losses including medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Contact our nationally-renowned, compassionate, and experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today for a no-obligation consultation. We are devoted to ensuring justice is served to all those who have or may become exposed to asbestos as the result of another person or company’s negligence.
Join us for part two of this short blog series to learn more about where asbestos may potentially be found.