Knowing the Risk and Danger of Asbestos Contamination Could Save Individuals from Lethal Health Issues in the Future

Recent litigation in U.S. courts and in the news have made many citizens aware of the dangers of asbestos. However, the level of knowledge on this topic is overall lacking in regards to consumers making informed and safe choices. Asbestos is a general term referring to six varying forms of minerals that have been used throughout history for their heat resistant properties. The most common of these minerals seen in America are amosite, or brown asbestos, and crocidolite, or blue asbestos, and the most common, chrysotile. All these minerals were used, in the past, for a multitude of residential and commercial insulation jobs in the form of tiles, caulks, siding, ceiling and drywall insulation, and piping, as well as in other products, such as brake pads and flame retardant blankets, clothing, stage curtains and emergency exit doors. Of all the asbestos found in American buildings, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that ninety-five percent are derived from the mineral chrysotile.

While the dangers to public health are vaguely known by the general public, more knowledge on the topic is needed by all consumers and citizens. Asbestos exposure, over prolonged periods, poses future risks of certain cancers and lung problems to humans including, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other respiratory problems. Exposure generally occurs through an individual’s employment or place of residence. If a person works with asbestos or the building where they work or live is contaminated by asbestos. Exposure can also happen outside of direct contact through work by asbestos tainted clothing, work materials, or equipment. The inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers can lead to an unsafe buildup of asbestos in the lungs, which may lead to the aforementioned medical conditions and possible death in future years. Even brief contact or handling of exposed asbestos materials can lead to an unsafe buildup of asbestos fibers in the lungs, which may prove harmful in the future.

The massive use of asbestos materials in so many sectors of industry, prior to the knowledge of the potential dangers, makes the complete elimination this danger unrealistic. Modern insulation materials, such as fiberglass, have completely replaced all other forms of insulation that previously utilized asbestos. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that work spaces contain extremely limited amounts of asbestos, to ensure the health of workers and consumers alike.

However, personal precaution and diligence is one of the best means of preventing any future cases of asbestos contamination. The EPA issues detailed and suggestive guidelines for those wishing to monitor their own lives for asbestos exposure. Some of the recommendations include using professionals to remove any asbestos materials found in your home, not handling materials with exposed asbestos fibers, continually checking for deteriorating materials that may expose asbestos fibers, and only handling exposed asbestos fibers with the help of a professional.

The news media is littered with mass tort litigation over asbestos claims. The cost of this litigation is estimated to cost nearly two-hundred and fifty billion dollars and involve more than eight thousand defendants and over seven-hundred thousands claimants. This litigation is expected to continue and rise as damage claims from workers and consumers exposed to asbestos surface over the coming years. Long term side effects will manifest themselves as detrimental health problems due to asbestos exposure, over many years.

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