Once asbestos was completely banned from all materials, many people thought that the instances of asbestos-related diseases would decline, especially because more and more people were learning about the dangers of this material and where it could be found. While use has declined and much has been done to remove asbestos from the buildings it was used in, asbestos is still an issue. This is largely due to the fact that asbestos is still present in many buildings.
Asbestos was originally used because of its insulating and fire resistance properties. It was used in roofing underlay, to insulate ductwork and pipes, and even in the caulk around windows. Many older buildings still contain materials that are made from asbestos, which means there is still a chance that someone can inhale the fibers and develop one of the diseases connected to this material.
Mesothelioma is one of the most common diseases caused by asbestos inhalation. Around three thousand people a year develop mesothelioma, but because it takes at least ten years after exposure for a disease to develop, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where or when the exposure occurred. Many patients, especially those over the age of sixty, were exposed to asbestos when it was used in shipyards or construction up until the 1980s, but today, it is much more likely that someone will be exposed in their own home, rather than at work. Even a small, short exposure can have disastrous results in the long term.
There are still a lot of materials in our environment that contain asbestos. And while insulation in the walls is perfectly fine and unlikely to be a risk to anyone, if any of those materials are disturbed, for example, during a storm or other natural disaster, there is the risk that the fibers might be released into the environment. During a home renovation or repair is the most common time to see asbestos exposure today.
It is very important to be aware of the dangers of asbestos and where they might be lurking in one’s everyday life. When it comes to asbestos and the diseases it causes, prevention is the only option. With diseases like mesothelioma, it is often not caught until it is too far along for anything to be done for that patient. Limiting exposure is the best precaution against these diseases.