How Asbestos Continues to Affect Us Today
The use of asbestos for its fireproof properties goes back centuries. So does knowledge of the health risks associated with long-term exposure to asbestos. Yet the massive demand for fire-retardant materials, especially as humanity entered the industrial revolution, led to folks looking the other way.
By the mid-20th century, the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure were no longer something which could be ignored. Governments around the globe began writing laws to restrict and outright banish asbestos from their respective dominions. The result has been a major reduction in cases of mesothelioma – the deadly lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure – over the last several decades.
It is incorrect though, for men and women living in the United States, to think they are free from the threats of asbestos exposure. Unlike the overwhelming majority of developed countries, the U.S. has not completely banned the use of asbestos within its borders. Though regulated and theoretically inspected to prevent dangerous exposure, asbestos remains prevalent throughout cities and towns across America.
Here are the principal ways in which asbestos continues to affect us into the 21st century:
Men and working working in multiple manufacturing and industrial sectors work directly with asbestos on a daily basis. Thanks to numerous safeguards and precautions, the overwhelming majority of them will never develop mesothelioma. Every year, however, thousands do. Their lives become a race against time to beat the statute of limitations for receiving compensation, something which can only be achieved with the help of a specialized asbestos lawyer on their side.
Homes built before 1975 were undoubtedly constructed with asbestos-laden materials. Plumbing insulation is where asbestos is most likely to be found in older buildings, but asbestos was used for a variety of construction-related purposes before its dangers were well known. Certain attic insulation, vinyl tiling, plaster, and siding materials were built with asbestos to improve the home’s resistance to fire. Fortunately by now the majority of these components have been removed due to wear and tear, but owners of older homes have to be on the lookout for any original part of the building, as it could be the source of dangerous asbestos exposure.
The most alarming threat posed by asbestos is the fact it was used so widely for so long. By the time medical science conclusively connected long-term asbestos exposure to mesothelioma, the material was pervasive across all human society. The last 50 years has seen a ceaseless effort to eradicate asbestos-laden materials from the Earth, but it’s the equivalent of completely wiping out a virus or tracking down every buffalo nickel in circulation; there will always be more out there. The consequence is that long-term asbestos exposure could potentially come from the abandoned factory upwind from an office building, a quilt passed down through five generations, or any other assortment of unfortunate scenarios.
Humans have utilized asbestos for hundreds of years, all the while being at least somewhat aware of its lethal consequences. The last century has seen a rapid revolution in the way we regulate, restrict, and remove asbestos from our environment; however, work remains to be done. In the meantime, mesothelioma continues to claim roughly 43,000 lives worldwide every year.