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What Is the Risk of Non-Occupational Exposure Today?


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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 Mark L. Rowe

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.

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.

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