One of the main sources of asbestos exposure is building materials. Despite the fact that many people knew that asbestos was a health hazard long ago, companies all over the world continued to manufacture products that contained asbestos. From insulation to car brakes, the products continued to be available to the public for decades.
In many cases, companies knew about the risks associated with asbestos but did nothing about it. Some put profits before people and knowingly manufactured and distributed a dangerous product. While companies can no longer use the fiber in products, it can still be found in all kinds of products manufactured before the late 1980s.
Asbestos is generally considered to be non-hazardous when it is left undisturbed. However, when products are broken down, repaired or remodeled, the asbestos can become airborne. People should be particularly cautious around friable asbestos. The term “friable” means that a product or material crumbles very easily. The small particles that remain after being broken down can be ingested quite without a person even realizing it.
Primarily, friable asbestos is found in construction materials. Products like insulation, plaster, paper products and spackling compounds are commonly asbestos-based. However, there are also products that are made from “non-friable” asbestos. This type of asbestos is not easily released into the air like friable asbestos is. It is commonly found in sturdier products like roofing, floor tiles and siding. However, as soon as a person saws or sands the materials, the asbestos can still be released.
In most cases, it takes significant exposure to asbestos for a person to suffer the fatal effects that can result. But because asbestos is found in so many common products, people may not be aware of how much they have actually come into contact with asbestos. Unfortunately, it might be more often than they realize.
Source: CBS Local, “Asbestos: Learn The Risks & Fix,” June 15, 2012