Asbestos Exposure Can Still Be a Risk at Home, School, Work, and Play

The health hazards associated with asbestos exposure have been well documented since at least the 1970s and asbestos hasn't been mined in the U.S. since 2002. That's the good news. The bad news is that some of the effects of this deadly carcinogen can take 30 years to appear. To further complicate matters, many people in the U.S. are still exposed to the tiny asbestos fibers, which even today can be found in products we encounter regularly.

You might have run into asbestos in your high school science class, as an insulator while heating solutions with a Bunsen burner. The walls of your classroom might have also contained asbestos, used as fireproofing. Tiny chunks of asbestos-containing materials might have been sprayed on the ceiling of your school auditorium for soundproofing.

Fortunately, in these three examples the asbestos typically remains undisturbed, which means that exposure to asbestos fibers is unlikely. But because asbestos was widely used in construction during much of the 20th century, anyone working in construction during that time-or doing remodeling today-is at risk of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma.

Of particular note is the risk to anyone who works with asbestos roofing, shingles and siding. These products-that are still widely used-could release asbestos fibers into the air if they are cut, drilled or damaged during remodeling.

Asbestos turns up in unexpected places, as well. It was often used in brake pads for automobiles, and while U.S. manufacturers no longer use asbestos, some foreign replacement parts do, and mechanics could be exposed when working on older cars that still have their original pads. Furthermore, asbestos is still used to this day in the chemical industry, in the production of chemicals called chlor-alkalis.

The risks of asbestos exposure even extends into arts and crafts hobbies like ceramics and glass-blowing, where old heat-resistant asbestos gloves may still be in use around kilns and open flames.

Even more frightening is the risk to one's family. There are many documented cases of families suffering from asbestos-related illnesses because they were infected when someone came home from work in clothes covered in the tiny asbestos fibers.

If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with a disease related to asbestos, it's a good idea to talk to an experienced asbestos attorney, who will have the resources to fully investigate what may have caused the exposure, and can help you protect your legal right to compensation.