Though the rate of cancers related to asbestos exposure has slowed down in recent years, research reveals that exposure to asbestos in homes is actually on the rise. What has changed over the last ten years? One of the biggest shifts in asbestos exposure has actually been the method by which people are exposed to this material. Because the production of asbestos was outlawed in 2004, there is far less direct exposure.
During the 1960s and 1970s, asbestos was one of the most common materials used for home insulation. The people that were most commonly exposed to asbestos were those who worked with this material. That meant that construction workers, miners, and ship builders were the most likely to come into contact with asbestos, breathing it in, where it could cause a range of different medical issues, from asbestosis to mesothelioma.
Today, the people who are most likely to be exposed to asbestos are those who live in those older homes, where asbestos was used as insulation, especially those that take out old insulation that contains asbestos, without using the right kind of protection. While there is a much lower risk of exposure during this process, it still does exist, and because more and more older homes are being renovated today, more and more people are being exposed to asbestos in their own homes, instead of in the workplace, which was the most common place to be exposed in the past.
Why asbestos so dangerous? Because unlike other materials that will eventually break down, asbestos does not. Once you breathe it in, it will stay in the lungs forever. The risk of developing mesothelioma will continue to increase as the person breathes in more fibers.
One of the most major issues when it comes to connecting asbestos exposure to those who eventually develop asbestos-related diseases is that first, doctors are not vigilant about exploring a patient’s past to discover when and how they might have been exposed and second, simply that exposure happened so long ago, long before the disease appears, that it might be impossible for the individual to remember when and how they were exposed.