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What You Need to Know About Asbestos

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

Asbestos was once frequently used because of its many benefits. Asbestos is durable, flexible, fire-resistant, and heat-resistant. For this reason, it became an ideal insulating material in many buildings and materials. However, asbestos is highly connected to the dangerous cancer mesothelioma. If you or someone you know may have been exposed to asbestos, keep reading to learn more.

It Was a Commonly Used Insulator

All building materials have some insulating properties, but asbestos naturally has high insulating properties, which made it a popular choice to use throughout buildings and homes to improve energy efficiency.

Asbestos was commonly used for attic insulation, wall insulation, and pipe insulation. Other types of asbestos insulation included block insulation for concrete, spray-applied insulation, and valve insulation jackets.

As a result, asbestos was commonly used in homes, buildings, ships, cars, manufacturing facilities, and nearly every building or structure that branches of the military used. For this reason, many people who worked in the military have been exposed to asbestos for long periods of time.

Certain types of asbestos insulation are more bothersome than others. For example, spray-applied insulation is more likely to flake or crumb, releasing tiny particles into the air that can be inhaled. On the other hand, if asbestos is in the wall insulation, it may not cause problems unless you cut into the wall to remove the insulation or simply made upgrades to your home.

It Is the Leading Cause of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer caused by breathing in asbestos fibers. These fibers get trapped in the lining of your lungs, irritating the tissue and leading to cancer. Unfortunately, the signs of mesothelioma do not usually appear until decades after your exposure to asbestos so you may not realize you are sick until you are retired.

The signs of mesothelioma include dry coughing, shortness of breath, fever, fluid around the lungs, pain in the chest, and fatigue. If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, they will diagnose you with imaging scans, biopsies, and blood tests.

Unfortunately, there is not a cure for mesothelioma and it has a short life expectancy between 12 and 21 months. In some cases, mesothelioma can affect your stomach, heart, or testicles too.

It Is Not Banned in the US

Because it is so dangerous, many countries, including Canada, Australia, and the UK have already banned asbestos, but the US continues to use asbestos. In fact, about 750 metric tons of asbestos were imported into the US in 2018. Asbestos is highly regulated in the US, and most products can only consist of less than 1 percent of asbestos.

Despite some countries not using asbestos, however, many continue to mine it to sell to manufacturers throughout the world. For example, currently, no working asbestos mines are in the US, but Canada still mines the mineral. In turn, they sell it to the US and other countries that still use asbestos.

Even though consumers in Canada and similar countries are not at risk of asbestos exposure, the workers who mine the mineral, and the people who live near the mine, may have a higher chance of developing mesothelioma.

Exposure to asbestos may not always result in mesothelioma, but the carcinogenic fibers significantly increase your risk. For this reason, many blue-collar workers (such as construction workers) and veterans have now developed this deadly cancer.

If you would like to know more about mesothelioma and asbestos or to figure out what you can do if you were exposed to asbestos in the military, contact us at the Veterans Asbestos Alliance today.

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