Exposure to asbestos can happen at work, at home, in school, in the military, and outdoors.
Because it is a naturally occurring mineral that resists heat, it was used massively for insulation in buildings and machinery until people learned it was associated with lung diseases and fatal cancers like mesothelioma.
After several decades of controversy and litigation, it is now regulated in many developed countries.
You can still find it in up to 5000 common products
Asbestos exposure can occur with products including:
building insulation in older homes, schools, and offices
auto and truck brake pads
contaminated vermiculite for gardening
domestic and military shipbuilding and maintenance
construction materials including
roofing felt and shingles,
adhesives, and more
home equipment and supplies including
wallboard, and more
decorative fireplace logs
talc and talc-containing cosmetics
dust-contaminated work clothing
How does asbestos harm your lungs?
This mineral is very light weight and easily breaks into microscopic particles.
It creates a dust that floats in the air for long periods of time.
When inhaled, the dust particles travel to the lungs and in some cases to the mesothelial lining around the lungs.
The asbestos dust particles are too small and too many to be removed. Acting like microscopic shrapnel, they damage cells, creating a time bomb of biochemical events that can eventually lead to scarring, mesothelioma cancer, metastasis, and death.
Medical research not only seeks new treatments, but also studies how to slow down the progression of asbestos cancers (such as green tea asbestos health research).
Domestic or imported products?
While U.S. laws may regulate the manufacture of these products using asbestos, many products may be imported with fewer regulations or with lower standards.
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on September 16, 2012
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