This month we have been chatting to Katherine Keys who live in the U.S who has been fighting mesothelioma cancer (a cancer caused by asbestos exposure) for the past 9 years.
Katherine's exposure came from an office remodel, as a result of asbestos contaminants being spread into the air. However, many victims of this terrible cancer are firefighters. According to many studies, firefighters are at increased risk and are twice as likely to develop mesothelioma. We asked Katherine to tell us more about Asbestos and the dangers so please see Katherine's blog below.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos, once touted as a miracle mineral, is the cause of several thousand deaths each year. While it was once relished for its affordability, resistance to heat and fire, and ease of use, the toll it takes on human health makes it hardly worth it. The dangers of asbestos still lurks daily, and despite overwhelming evidence of its risks, it’s still legal in the U.S.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that contains an exorbitant amount of microscopic, odorless fibers, that are known carcinogens. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that asbestos is found in mines throughout the world. In the U.S., primary areas include mines in a number of Central, Eastern, and Rocky Mountain states.
Although there is no safe level of asbestos, it’s generally harmless when not disturbed. Once disturbed, however, the microscopic fibers quickly permeate throughout the air and vicinity. People can easily inhale these tiny fibers without even noticing. Once asbestos fibers get lodged in the body, they begin attaching themselves to the linings of major organs, such as heart, lungs, and abdominal lining.
Over time, the fibers began to irritate and scar the linings, and cancerous tumors begin to form, leading to toxic illnesses, including asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer, and malignant mesothelioma. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that studies indicate asbestos exposure may be linked to additional diseases as well, such as kidney, bladder, and brain cancer.
There’s a common myth that asbestos is now illegal in the U.S., which is simply untrue. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put strict regulations on its use in the late 1970s, the mineral still remains legal for use in numerous products.
The good news, however, is that most job sites discontinued asbestos use prior to the mid-1980s. Yet, the bad news is that it happened after a myriad of people were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis by simply showing up to work. Paper mills, textile plants, chemical plants, military bases and ships, and construction sites are among just a few of the many job sites that once used asbestos in products, equipment, and machinery.
Many of the people who worked around asbestos are now living with life-threatening diseases, while others have already passed away. A number of workers filed asbestos-related lawsuits against the manufacturers that supplied asbestos to their job sites.
Keep in mind that asbestos exposure today is still a threat. Older homes especially pose a threat when renovations are done prior to having the home checked for asbestos. Additionally, there are still numerous products on the market today that still contain asbestos, even several brands of children’s crayons and toys.
If You’ve Been Exposed to Asbestos
One of the most frightening things about asbestos-related illnesses is that the dormancy period can last up to 50 years. Once the first symptoms finally start to surface, people are usually already in the later stages of the disease.
If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s important to get routine medical check-ups, and it’s crucial that you to inform your doctor immediately that you may been in contact with asbestos. Many doctors fail to check asbestos illnesses, especially in children and young adults. The sooner any potential disease is detected, the better the chances are of successful treatment.
In the meantime, never renovate your home or work on old appliances until you get a licensed professional to check for asbestos. Never allow children to plan in and around old, abandoned buildings, and keep abreast of the products that contain asbestos by checking with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For more information please visit the following link to information about the dangers of asbestos from mesotheliomalawyercenter.org/asbestos.