In many North Carolina factories, shipyards, old school buildings, homes and other locations, there can be microscopic fibers in the air, which you might inhale or ingest if you are in the vicinity. If you work in a location where the air contains asbestos, you might go there every day for months or years and not realize that you have been breathing in or swallowing a substance that can make you ill. In fact, it can cause mesothelioma, a terminal disease.
There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure, meaning that even a single exposure could be enough to make you sick. The less disturbed asbestos remains, the lower the risk. When materials containing asbestos become friable, however, the risk for contracting mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses skyrockets. It is important to understand what friability means, with regard to asbestos fibers.
Risk of mesothelioma increases when friability is high
When a material is friable, it means that you can easily crumble it, and its contents will fall apart. With regard to products that contain asbestos, the term also refers to materials and fibers that are loosely bound. Some products, such as pipe lagging, vermiculite insulation and certain stove and heater linings, are highly friable, which means they might contain as much as 100% asbestos.
Some products start out as non-friable, meaning that their fibers or structure is tightly bound and not easily crumbled or broken down. However, factors such as age, sunlight and heat or water damage can make these types of materials become more friable over time. Think of a piece of cardboard that has gotten wet and dried out several times. It becomes easy to tear or crumble.
Why professional asbestos abatement is critical to safety
If you live or work in a place where someone has discovered asbestos, you and anyone else who visits or works at the location are at great risk for exposure and contracting mesothelioma disease. Some people think they can just remove the materials from the premises that are causing the problem; this can actually be a lethal mistake.
A certified abatement company should first clear the area. Such companies have specially trained workers who know how to remove asbestos-laden materials from a property in the safest way possible.
Never touch friable materials if the risk for asbestos is high
If you hammer, cut, saw, tear or otherwise disturb materials that contain asbestos, the microscopic fibers will easily release into the air around you. The more you disturb the materials, the greater the risk is for asbestos exposure. The best thing you can do, if you believe there are materials in your home or workplace that contain asbestos, is to leave the area and not return until an abatement team has handled the problem.
Sadly, many people in North Carolina and throughout the country have become terminally ill with mesothelioma, following their exposure to asbestos. In some cases, employers failed in their duties to inform workers of known hazards on the job. In fact, there are currently numerous class action lawsuits that people who have suffered asbestos injuries have filed.