Home   >   Questions & Answers  >  What Is the Risk of Non-Occupational Exposure Today?

What Is the Risk of Non-Occupational Exposure Today?

Nowadays, people are most often exposed to asbestos at home. When asbestos-containing building products are disturbed, fibers can easily be released into the air. Nevertheless, domestic exposure is typically low-risk.

answered by Wendy Garmon

Approximately 7% of asbestos exposure occurs at home

Over 5,000 different consumer products were manufactured with asbestos over the course of the past century, the majority of which were building materials. Due to the strength and fireproofing properties of fibers, asbestos would be incorporated in products such as vinyl floor tiles, cement, attic insulation, caulk and spray-on ceiling treatment by most companies. It was also accessible and convenient in terms of cost. In turn, construction companies would employ asbestos-containing materials for both public and residential buildings. As a result, millions of houses in the U.S. still have asbestos in their structure. Asbestos-containing products are most likely to be found in buildings erected before the 1980s which did not undergo restoration or asbestos abatement operations.

Household exposure occurs when old asbestos-containing building materials are disturbed. This often happens when remodeling operations are being performed. By sanding, removing, cutting, sawing or drilling through asbestos-containing products, toxic fibers are released into the air, which can subsequently be inhaled or swallowed by the inhabitants. If you live in a house built before the 1980s, you should avoid disturbing products which might contain asbestos in any way.

Similarly, removing asbestos-containing materials yourself is ill-advised, as the risk of exposure is considerable. The older the products are, the more carcinogenic fibers will come off. It is strongly recommended to hire a professional asbestos abatement company which can safely dispose of all problematic materials before having any remodeling done to your house. However, it is important to remember that unless household asbestos-containing products are disturbed, they do not represent a serious health threat.

Although rare, environmental asbestos exposure can occur as well nowadays. While asbestos mines are no longer in use, construction and demolition operations are regular everywhere. Because asbestos was so commonly present in building materials in the past, residents who live in proximity to construction or demolition sites may be at risk for environmental asbestos exposure. Despite the safety regulations employees have to follow when tearing down asbestos-containing buildings, exposure can still occur in certain instances.

Environmental exposure is as dangerous as occupational exposure. A study on the effects of environmental asbestos exposure conducted in 2009, in which over 4,000 participants were involved, revealed that the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is approximately the same for people who work directly with asbestos and for residents who live nearby. While 9.4% of workers were suffering from a disease, 8.4% of the residents developed an illness.

How widespread is asbestos in the workplace nowadays?

Many people, knowing the dangers of asbestos exposure, believe that the U.S. and other developed countries have banned the use of asbestos. Unfortunately, that is not entirely true.

According to a study conducted by the American Thoracic Society, approximately 1.3 million U.S. workers - primarily in the construction industry - are regularly exposed to asbestos on the job. Products containing asbestos continue to be manufactured and sold throughout the country today and thousands of buildings which have asbestos-containing materials are still standing.

At the moment, most asbestos in the U.S. comes from import and the most common products in which this carcinogenic mineral lurks nowadays include:

Even after decades of health concerns over the increase in asbestos-related diseases, exposure is still common in some occupational fields. Workers involved in refurbishment or maintenance could still be at risk, and the list also includes the following occupational groups:

  • demolition workers
  • heating and ventilation engineers
  • plumbers
  • carpenters
  • painters
  • decorators
  • roofing contractors
  • computer installers
  • electricians
  • cable layers
  • architects
  • telecommunications engineers

However, it is important to bear in mind that occupational asbestos exposure is significantly less likely to result in a life-threatening disease today, as the majority of U.S. employers comply with the strict safety regulations established by EPA and OSHA, which are meant to minimize the health hazard.

If you or a family member struggle with mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis, we highly encourage you to contact Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. at 205.328.9200. Our experienced attorneys will do all in their power to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve while you can focus on your health and treatment. So far, we have successfully represented over 25,000 asbestos victims.

*The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Other Related Questions

The Navy veterans were at the highest risk of being exposed to asbestos as most asbestos-containing products were used by the Navy when compared to other military branches in the United States.

Read more

Asbestos is a carcinogen responsible for the occurrence of terrible diseases. However, most people who became ill had been exposed to high levels of asbestos over the course of several years.

Read more

EPA and OSHA are the main federal agencies with effective laws and regulations aimed at protecting various groups of individuals from asbestos exposure, be it occupational or environmental.

Read more

Because the health effects of asbestos inhalation or ingestion do not ensue immediately after exposure, veterans harmed by this carcinogenic mineral will have to file their VA compensation claim for post-service disability.

Read more

Although the toxicity of asbestos has been known since the early 1930s, industrial hygiene was not a priority for asbestos companies. Thereby, secondary asbestos exposure was a common occurrence.

Read more

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people can be exposed to PFAS / PFOS every day by consuming contaminated water, swallowing contaminated soil or dust and even inhaling household dust.

Read more

Since asbestos exposure occurred in the workplace, you may think that it is the employer who will be held accountable for victims' terrible diseases. In reality, the issue of liability is much more complex.

Read more

See more questions