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What is asbestos and how prevalent is it?

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2023 | Firm News

Asbestos can cause a lot of harmful diseases, and there are many ways exposure can occur due to its prevalence.

You may have heard about the potential health risks associated with exposure to asbestos, but what exactly is it, why is it dangerous, and how much is it really used in Chicago? The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization states that certain heat-resistant and durable fibrous minerals that can be found in nature fall within the category of asbestos. The reason asbestos can cause internal injury is because of how its fibers persist in the body. They can be inhaled, and it is at that point that their physical characteristics become dangerous. It can be decades after the inhalation of asbestos until illness develops.

Uses Of Asbestos

For much of the 20th century, asbestos was used widely in a variety of applications. Some of these that are noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include in electrical motors, boilers, roofing, insulation, and even common household items like curtains and paper. Any of these items that were built in the 70s may contain asbestos. While the production and mining of asbestos in the United States ceased in 2002, the CDC mentions that the following items in the U.S. still use imported asbestos:

  • Brake pads
  • Imported cement pipe used in construction
  • Vinyl tile
  • Clutches in automobiles
  • Corrugated sheeting
  • Materials used for roofing

Many industrialized countries have banned the use of asbestos entirely; however, as is plain by the above list, the U.S. is not among those countries.

How Asbestos Exposure Takes Place

The National Cancer Institute advises that those who are most likely to develop asbestos-related diseases are those who were, or are, regularly exposed to it. Those who are involved in the roofing industry, in the making of tiles and in working on brakes and clutches in the automotive industry could be at a heightened risk for inhaling asbestos. The other thing people should keep in mind is that those who have to break through and destroy walls and other materials that contain asbestos are at a much higher risk for being overexposed. Insulation workers may have to remove old insulation used before 1975. The NCI states that millions of employees in the U.S. have been exposed to asbestos.

Demolition and asbestos removal workers are often placed in direct contact. However those who wish to remodel their homes should be careful to avoid exposure as well. It is also always possible that defective construction in a property built before the 70s could lead to unwanted exposure to asbestos if, for instance, a roof or siding collapses or if wall-patching compounds or textured paints flake off.

The potential lung diseases caused by inhaling asbestos can include the scarring of lung tissue, mesothelioma, and even laryngeal or gastrointestinal cancers. These conditions can have high medical costs and cause great suffering and pain. If you have developed one of these conditions and were exposed to asbestos at any time in your life, you have a right to pursue compensation. Consult an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney to explore your options.