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Asbestos awareness vital in preventing mesothelioma

States in the U.S., including Virginia, are lacking the awareness of asbestos and the relation to mesothelioma. According to a UK survey taken by the British Lung Foundation, roughly 67 percent of 2,000 residents admitted they would not know asbestos if they saw it, while only about 22 percent said they had known asbestos was banned by law.

Asbestos is a material once commonly used in many construction products and in the industrial fields due to its resistance to fire and heat. However, asbestos was banned after it was discovered the substance could cause a number of lung diseases, including mesothelioma, a type of cancer.

Awareness of asbestos is crucial in order to decrease the amount of health risk and the danger of the product. With less awareness and knowledge of the cancer-causing fibers, homeowners performing home construction and contracting can more easily find themselves exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is best left alone if discovered in good condition, as its removal can release harmful fibers and chemicals into the air which can be breathed in by unsuspecting residents. This is why it is vital that companies, manufacturers and property owners are well-versed in identifying and safely removing asbestos.

Asbestos has been banned in many countries and several industries, but continues to plague homeowners and employees in certain occupations because it was so commonly used until the 1980s. Though some people who breathe in asbestos fibers may not contract a lung disease, it is impossible to predict. Symptoms can arise between 15 and 50 years after exposure, and mesothelioma usually is diagnosed after treatment can be offered.

The year 2016 is expected to be high in asbestos-related deaths, and increasing awareness can help lower the numbers in years to come. Although some may assume only construction workers will be affected by asbestos exposure, it can happen to anyone in any career field.

Source: BBC, "Asbestos disease 'not a thing of the past', lung experts warn," Dame Helena Shovelton, June 21, 2012

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