To learn what Asbestos exposure is and what it can do to you and how you can come in contact with it, I think we should first examine what exactly it is.
Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally as a long thin magnesium silicate fiber in the environment mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. There are six different types of fibrous minerals (amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and the fibrous varieties of tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite) that occur naturally in the environment.
Asbestos minerals have separable long fibers that are strong and flexible enough to be spun and woven and are heat resistant. Because of these characteristics, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Some vermiculite or talc products may contain asbestos.
Asbestos is commonly used as an acoustic insulator, thermal insulation, fire proofing and in other building materials. Many products are in use today that contain asbestos.. Until the 1980's, when it was banned due to its health dangers, it had been used in many industrial and insulation materials as a fire retardant. Some of the jobs in which people have been exposed to asbestos directly or indirectly are those that involve factory work, demolition, insulation, shipbuilding, carpentry, installation of brake linings in vehicles, and many others.
Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed. When these fibers get into the air they may be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems.
Manufacturers have also voluntarily limited uses of asbestos. Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older homes, in pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials, and floor tiles.
Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes.
Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and is highly regulated. An estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during the removal of asbestos during renovation or demolition. Employees are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.
Asbestos fibers can enter the air or water from the breakdown of natural deposits and manufactured asbestos products. Asbestos fibers do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water. Small diameter fibers and particles may remain suspended in the air for a long time and be carried long distances by wind or water before settling down. Larger diameter fibers and particles tend to settle more quickly.
Asbestos fibers are not able to move through soil. Asbestos fibers are generally not broken down to other compounds and will remain virtually unchanged over long periods.
We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe. These levels range from 0.00001 to 0.0001 fibers per milliliter of air and generally are highest in cities and industrial areas.
People working in industries that make or use asbestos products or who are involved in asbestos mining may be exposed to high levels of asbestos. People living near these industries may also be exposed to high levels of asbestos in air.
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.
Drinking water may contain asbestos from natural sources or from asbestos-containing cement pipes.
Exposure to asbestos usually occurs by breathing contaminated air in workplaces that make or use asbestos. Asbestos is also found in the air of buildings containing asbestos that are being torn down or renovated. Asbestos exposure can cause serious lung problems and cancer. This substance has been found in at least 83 of the 1,585 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Asbestos mainly affects the lungs and the membrane that surrounds the lungs. Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers for a long time may result in scar-like tissue in the lungs and in the pleural membrane (lining) that surrounds the lung. This disease is called asbestosis and is usually found in workers exposed to asbestos, but not in the general public. People with asbestosis have difficulty breathing, often a cough, and in severe cases heart enlargement. Asbestosis is a serious disease and can eventually lead to disability and death.
Breathing lower levels of asbestos may result in changes called plaques in the pleural membranes. Pleural plaques can occur in workers and sometimes in people living in areas with high environmental levels of asbestos. Effects on breathing from pleural plaques alone are not usually serious, but higher exposure can lead to a thickening of the pleural membrane that may restrict breathing.
It is known that breathing asbestos can increase the risk of cancer in people. There are two types of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos: lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin lining surrounding the lung (pleural membrane) or abdominal cavity (the peritoneum). Cancer from asbestos does not develop immediately, but shows up after a number of years. Studies of workers also suggest that breathing asbestos can increase chances of getting cancer in other parts of the body (stomach, intestines, esophagus, pancreas, and kidneys), but this is less certain. Early identification and treatment of any cancer can increase an individual's quality of life and survival.
Cigarette smoke and asbestos together significantly increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Therefore, if you have been exposed to asbestos you should stop smoking. This may be the most important action that you can take to improve your health and decrease your risk of cancer.
Asbestos is the major cause of mesothelioma in the United States, in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that can be difficult to diagnose. Several diseases can cause symptoms similar to mesothelioma. To get the best treatment for lung related diseases, it's important to seek medical help as early as possible. An early diagnosis provides the best chance for effective treatment to prolong your life. Promising research is going on right now that gives hope for better treatments, and hopefully a cure for this aggressive disease in the future.
Many asbestos manufacturers and distributors knew for decades that asbestos was hazardous, yet made a business decision not to warn people of those hazards.
Mesothelioma is a very rare form of lung cancer that arises in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is made up of parietal and visceral membranes, thin layers of tissue, which surround organs and body cavities, such as the lungs or abdomen. The visceral membrane immediately surrounds the organ, and the parietal membrane is a sac covering the visceral membrane. The visceral and parietal membranes that make up the mesothelium.
This fluid helps organs move easily among surrounding structures. In the case of the lung, it helps reduce friction between the lung and chest wall during normal breathing as the lung expands.
The mesothelioma is referred to by different names, depending on what part of the body it is found in. In the abdomen, it is called the peritoneum, in the lungs, the pleura, and in the heart, the pericardium. These correspond to peritoneum mesothelioma (cancer of the abdomen/stomach), pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining) and pericardium mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has been conclusively linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos-related illnesses have occurred in workers in many industries where this insulating material was used. However, people exposed to asbestos secondarily can develop lung-related medical problems. If you have worked in an asbestos-related industry or lived in close contact with someone who did, there is a chance you may develop lung problems, including mesothelioma.
Materials containing asbestos that are not disturbed or deteriorated do not, in general, pose a health risk and can be left alone. If you suspect that you may be exposed to asbestos in your home, contact your state or local health department or the regional offices of EPA to find out how to test your home and how to locate a company that is trained to remove or contain the fibers.
Low levels of asbestos fibers can be measured in urine, feces, mucus, or lung washings of the general public. Higher than average levels of asbestos fibers in tissue can confirm exposure but not determine whether you will experience any health effects.
A thorough history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests are needed to evaluate asbestos-related disease. Chest x-rays are the best screening tool to identify lung changes resulting from asbestos exposure. Lung function tests and CAT scans also assist in the diagnosis of asbestos-related disease.
As an American citizen you have many rights. The United Stated of America signed a very important document called the Declaration of Human Rights. In it, under article number 3 you will find that "everyone has the right to life..." With that said, almost everyone infected with mesothelioma got it by inhaling toxic asbestos fibers during a long period of time without any warning. This means that you may have the right for a mesothelioma asbestos claim.
Since the first mesothelioma lawsuit hit the courts in 1929, more and more lawsuits have been presented involving more than two hundred billion dollars. Any person that has acquired mesothelioma because of negligence of someone else is eligible to file a case in search for compensation for damages to their life.
Although mesothelioma is still a very rare type of cancer, the US government has been presented with countless cases, making it somewhat a legal priority to create answers for. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment on June 14 2006 to the highly debated "Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005" which granted victims of mesothelioma "$1.1 million within 30 days of their claim's approval". Victims include people from normally exposed industries and also people exposed to asbestos during the 9/11 rescues and debris recollection after the attacks on the World Trade Center and debris recollection from reconstruction after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Don't ever hesitate or think twice if you want to seek legal advice for a mesothelioma asbestos claim. There are many excellent hard working legal firms that can find you the best compensations for obtaining mesothelioma by inhaling asbestos fibers. Nevertheless, you have to be diagnosed with the illness in order to file a case. Because of the innumerable cases that have been presented of people that only present symptoms from the cancer, the justice process for people currently ill from mesothelioma is hindered. The justice department has no other choice but to reject these spam cases in order to tackle the mesothelioma asbestos claims from people who are genuinely suffering the disease. There are other ways to make a mesothelioma claim for only presenting symptoms.
ATSDR can tell you where to find occupational and environmental health clinics. Their specialists can recognize, evaluate, and treat illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances. You can also contact your community or state health or environmental quality department if you have any more questions or concerns.