Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is dangerous to human health. Because it has many practical uses, including fireproofing and insulation, asbestos was used widely in commercial and industrial settings until the 1980s. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it was discovered that asbestos causes cancer and other health problems, its use was phased out, and it was replaced wifth safer alternatives. However, many older houses and workplaces still contain asbestos. If you think you might live or work around this substance, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from being exposed to it. These four tips will help you and your family stay safe around asbestos.
- Know where asbestos is.
Whenever possible, learn about any potential asbestos risks ahead of time. That way, you won’t find out afterwards that you accidentally exposed yourself to the substance. A few places where asbestos is still commonly found include:
- Flooring materials, especially vinyl floor tiles
- Roofing materials
- Fireproofing materials, including fire blankets and fire doors
- Insulation for pipes
Older buildings, especially those constructed before 1989, are most likely to contain asbestos. If you think your workplace may contain asbestos, talk to your employer and try to find out when it was built. If you can’t find out for sure whether or not a building contains asbestos, avoid disturbing any of the materials on the list above.
- Never disturb materials that contain asbestos.
If you think you may have found asbestos, don’t touch it or move the materials that contain it. Asbestos is dangerous when it gets into the air, because then you’re at risk for inhaling the fibers. Several of the most common ways asbestos gets disturbed include cutting, sanding, drilling, or hammering materials that contain this substance. Sweeping or vacuuming up asbestos is also a bad idea. Construction workers need to be especially careful not to accidentally disturb asbestos. If you have children, make sure they know not to play near materials that contain asbestos.
- Play it safe.
Do-it-yourself home improvement projects may be fun, but if you live in an old house, they could put you in contact with asbestos. If you’re not sure whether a material contains asbestos, don’t risk it. It might be safe — but if you’re wrong, you could end up with lung cancer, a type of cancer called mesothelioma, or a condition called asbestosis. When in doubt, it’s always safer to call an asbestos abatement specialist to test your materials and, if necessary, to get rid of them safely.
- Call a professional.
Never try to get rid of materials containing asbestos on your own — the risk is too great for someone who hasn’t been trained properly. If you know there’s asbestos in your house or workplace, or if you want to get something tested, contact an asbestos abatement professional. They will be able to safely determine whether asbestos is present and remove it.
Asbestos is nothing to take chances with. Exposure to this toxic material has cost many people their health or even their lives. Many houses and other buildings still contain asbestos, so if you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos due to someone else’s negligence, contact a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN trusts, today for a free consultation.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Patterson Bray PLLC for their insights into asbestos and personal injury practice.