Asbestos is a dangerous group of minerals in the form of fibers. These mineral fibers occur naturally around the world. They’re found in rocks and in soil, where they’re more or less neutral agents.
Two kinds of asbestos occur naturally. They include amphibole and chrysotile asbestos. Chrysotile is most often used in industry.
Are both kinds of asbestos dangerous?
Yes. In nature, it’s unlikely that you’ll see asbestos in large amounts. However, in industrial applications, they are present in greater amounts. The asbestos may be in the air when used as insulation, threatening the health of anyone who breathes it in.
Asbestos fibers create a danger because they cause scarring in the lungs when inhaled. This scarring then leads to asbestos-related cancers. One of the most common is mesothelioma.
Today, there are limits to asbestos exposure in the United States. However, though many people believe asbestos isn’t used in products any longer, that’s not true. It’s possible to be exposed to asbestos today through some current products, old water pipes and older buildings. You may also be exposed to asbestos if you travel to locations where it is not banned.
Exposure methods vary
There are a couple ways people could be exposed to asbestos. The main ways are through inhaling asbestos or swallowing asbestos. While the majority of people are exposed to extremely low levels of asbestos in the natural environment, some are exposed to higher levels when rocks or soil erode.
The people most likely to struggle with asbestos-related illnesses are those who worked in asbestos industries. These individuals were exposed to clouds of asbestos on a daily basis, putting them at an extremely high risk of developing complications. Members of the U.S. Navy, for example, were exposed to asbestos aboard their ships.
Are people at risk for asbestos-related illnesses in the United States today?
Surprisingly, yes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration believes that around a million American employees are exposed to significant amounts of asbestos on the job.
Does asbestos really cause cancer?
Yes. Mesothelioma, specifically, is linked closely to asbestos exposure. It affects the lining of organs in the chest and abdomen. Most people who develop cancer from asbestos, particularly those who develop lung cancer, do not see it develop until around 15 years following exposure. For mesothelioma, it may be 30 years or more before an initial diagnosis.
Asbestos exposure leads to cancers of the voice box and ovaries, in some cases. It’s more likely that these cancers come from swallowing the asbestos fibers.
There’s no question that asbestos leads to life-changing injuries. If you suffer them, you need to speak out and get the compensation you deserve.