Asbestos in our Environment
Our environment is full of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral. Normal erosion releases asbestos into the environment and into both air and water. Lighter particles can travel farther distances than heavier ones, with the heavier ones settling where water pools and currents are gentle, or on the soil when they become heavier than the wind. For the most part, exposure to the smaller natural levels of asbestos is normal and harmless.
Aside from natural erosion, asbestos enters the environment when it disturbed and the particles are released into the air. The EPA has posted much information about past uses of asbestos on its website, including where to find asbestos in the environment. This information can warn of dangerous products or other exposure before you risk contamination.
More often, asbestos is released through wastewaters from mining and industrial plants. Asbestos can enter the environment through its use in over 3,000 products, such as insulation, concrete, roofing materials, many household items, and even from our water system. Many older products using asbestos are still around.
Demolition sites usually destroy older buildings, releasing a tremendous amount of dust. Older buildings used asbestos extensively, in paint, wallboard, insulation, and in gas fireplaces, boilers, roofing, counter tops and flooring. If you live in or remodel an older home find out if asbestos is present before you begin work and what you can do about it.
Another source is the cement pipes that carry water supplies to our communities. The EPA has set safe limits on the amount of asbestos particles allowable in our drinking water. These levels are called Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, and represent the EPA belief that amounts of chemicals below these levels are safe for human consumption. The MCLG for asbestos in water is 7 million fibers per liter of water because this is currently the lowest level of filtration that can be achieved by our water systems.
High levels of asbestos exposure come from working environments where asbestos is used, or mined, in large quantities, and where it becomes airborne. It is this concentrated exposure over long periods of time that is associated with asbestos-related diseases.
OSHA, EPA, the CDC and other government agencies have set safety standards for working in environments that expose workers to asbestos and other dangerous materials. They are responsible for enforcing the regulations and protecting their employees from levels of exposure that can harm their health.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, please contact experienced mesothelioma lawyers, Brown | Gould | Kiely, LLP.