Tips for Avoiding Asbestos Exposure
For decades, countless workers were exposed to asbestos, the majority of whom didn’t even know what this material was. Most who did had no idea what it was capable of. They only knew that asbestos was a microscopic organic mineral fiber that was nearly indestructible as far as industrial uses were concerned. It only made sense that this material would be used in everything from cruise ships to car engines to rooftops to insulation. Unfortunately, it has left at least 107,000 people dead and millions more infected with mesothelioma, a form of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos.
See a Doctor if You Think You’ve Been Exposed
One of the saddest parts about mesothelioma is that many people would’ve been better off if they had sought medical attention sooner. Therefore, if you ever worked with asbestos, go see a doctor and tell them. It’s essential you tell them about your past history with the material. Otherwise, a misdiagnosis can be easy.
Leave Loose Insulation Alone
All insulation needs to be handled carefully. That’s because this material almost always contains some kind of harmful substance. Mishandling it could leave you exposed. Loose insulation that has asbestos in it is one of the most dangerous mediums by which these tiny fibers get transferred to people’s lungs.
Over time, asbestos breaks down; this only makes it more dangerous as far as inhalation is concerned. When it’s hanging from overhead or the insulation is handled in such a way that the fibers are allowed into the air, anyone around is in trouble.
If you find insulation that you believe has asbestos in it, call a professional to handle it. You simply don’t want to take any risks.
Let Mechanics Handle Your Brakes
Those who like to handle their automobile’s needs at home should definitely let the professionals take care of their brake pads. Brake pads are legally permitted to contain asbestos. In fact, those that contain less than 1% of the material can even be sold with a label that claims it’s actually asbestos-free.
Mechanics will know how to handle these pads in the safest way possible. The EPA actually requires specific steps they have to follow (including special equipment) in order to reduce the release of asbestos.
Be Wary of Pipe Wrapping
Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was put into pipe wrapping in order to contain heat and fend off damage from fire. Unfortunately, over time, this wrapping becomes very fragile. Its friable nature allows damage to occur, especially around the areas where the pipe bends.
In older buildings and even some newer ones, this wrapping may have asbestos in it. People, especially children, need to be careful not to make contact with it, lest they shake asbestos loose and into the air.
Stay Away from Asbestos Deposits
Like we said above, asbestos is a naturally occurring product. This means that it’s bound to show up in nature. It forms in a specific type of rock located in rocky soils and along mountain ranges. It isn’t found in low-elevation states like Louisiana and Florida or in the Great Plains.
Even in the states where it is found—like in the Appalachians and the northeast—these deposits are rare. To play it safe, though, drive slowly along dirt roads in these states and use paved trails when walking outside. On windy days, close doors and windows to keep out debris that could contain asbestos.
It’s important to remember that one-time exposure to asbestos won’t turn into mesothelioma down the road. Those who get sick were exposed over and over, year after year, probably four hours at a time. Still, it’d be wise to follow the above advice just to be safe.