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Asbestos: Sources of Exposure and Risks of Health Complications

Asbestos refers to a group of minerals. Exposure to asbestos can trigger multiple health co

mplications, including cancer. Below are some of the ways asbestos can get into your system and your risk of asbestos-related complications.

Sources of Exposure

Asbestos exposure can occur anywhere with asbestos. However, the following are some of the common ways people get asbestos exposure.


Many people experience asbestos exposure in the workplace. For example, these three jobs had or have a high risk of asbestos exposure:

  • Military: The military used asbestos in their vehicles, buildings, and aircraft until the 1970s. Your military service might have exposed you to asbestos if you are a military veteran from that era.

  • Construction: The construction industry heavily relied on asbestos in the past. Builders used asbestos in roofing, flooring, and insulation materials, among others.

  • Mining: Miners experience asbestos exposure in two main ways. First, some people experienced asbestos exposure because they worked in asbestos mines. Secondly, even those who mine other products may experience asbestos exposure if they unknowingly operate in areas with asbestos deposits.

Consumer Products

Asbestos can also get into your system if you handle consumer products that contain the mineral. Some consumer products with asbestos include:

  • Talcum powder

  • Crock-pots

  • Fertilizers

  • Paint

  • Hair dryers

Some manufacturers stopped using asbestos in their products. However, some of their products with asbestos are still around, and you can get exposure to the mineral if you handle the products.


As previously mentioned, the building and construction industry was a heavy consumer of asbestos in the past. Some of the buildings with asbestos are still in use.

Occupants of buildings with asbestos face a low risk of exposure — as long as the buildings are sound or intact. The risk increases if the building falls, crumbles, or suffers damage. Contractors, however, face a high risk of exposure during maintenance, repair, or renovation of such buildings.


Asbestos can also get into your system if your neighborhood has relatively high levels of asbestos. You risk this form of asbestos exposure if:

  • You live near mines

  • You live near factories that use asbestos in their processes

  • The soils and rocks in your area have higher-than-normal levels of asbestos

A natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a tornado, can also expose you to asbestos if it disturbs asbestos in the ground.

Secondary Exposure

Secondary asbestos exposure occurs if someone carries asbestos home on their clothes or body. For example, your spouse might come home with asbestos dust on their clothes and disperse the dust when they remove the clothes. Secondary exposure is just as dangerous as firsthand exposure.

Factors That Determine the Risk of Asbestos Diseases

Even low doses of asbestos exposure are dangerous. However, some people are more likely to experience asbestos-related diseases than others. Your risk of health complications depends on:

  • The concentration of asbestos in the environment you were in

  • The length of time you were in the contaminated environment

  • The fact of whether or not you’re a smoker (those who smoke tobacco face a higher risk than nonsmokers)

  • The family genetics (some people are genetically predisposed to asbestos-related complications)

  • The type of asbestos (asbestos exists in various subtypes, and some are more dangerous than others)

Ultimately, the best way to avoid the health complications that asbestos bring is to avoid any level of exposure.

You may need legal, financial, and medical help if you have suffered medical problems due to asbestos exposure. Veterans Asbestos Alliance understands the danger of asbestos and has accumulated a wealth of information related to asbestos exposure. Contact us today so that we can provide you with the information you need to get help for your asbestos woes.

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