Asbestos is not often found in the national news cycle these days. While part of the reason might be related to ever-emerging information related to COVID and other pressing issues, is it possible that people don’t consider asbestos-related topics to be relevant anymore?
Tremendous progress has been made in controlling mining, the manufacturing of asbestos-containing products, and in establishing safety protocols for dealing with asbestos containing materials (ACM). For example, in the 1970s asbestos use peaked at 800,000 tons per years. But due to EPA regulations, OSHA standards, and a multitude of lawsuits, the U.S. now uses less than 1,000 tons per year. That’s progress!
However, asbestos is still in place in older buildings – including older homes constructed prior to the 1980s. Workers and homeowners may still be exposed to asbestos during routine maintenance, renovation, or demolition. They can also be exposed to deteriorating or damaged ACM.
Here are some common questions and answers about asbestos. Read on for up-to-date information and statistics so that you can stay informed and safe.
Is the use of asbestos in the U.S. now banned? Asbestos has been banned in over 60 countries worldwide, but not in the U.S. In fact, in 2018 the American chemical industry imported four times more asbestos than it did in 2017.
Are workers still exposed to asbestos? Yes – approximately 1.3 million U.S. workers in construction and general industry remain at risk today.
Do people still die from asbestos-related illnesses? Yes – more than 39,000 U.S. lives are lost each year because of this. Asbestos is the primary cause of work-related deaths worldwide.
How likely is a worker to become ill from asbestos exposure? About 20 percent of people who work around asbestos will develop an asbestos-related disease later in life.
What diseases are caused by long-term asbestos exposure? Asbestos causes both cancerous and non-cancerous illnesses. Cancerous diseases include mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer. Non-cancerous diseases include asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural effusions, pleuritis, diffuse pleural thickening, and atelectasis.
Can someone become ill through secondary or indirect exposure to asbestos? Yes – a mortality study of 878 households in Libby, Montana revealed that over a ten-year period, 11 people died from mesothelioma who did not work directly with asbestos or ACM.
How did secondary exposure occur? Secondary exposure in Libby occurred from frequent contact with a worker’s skin, hair, and clothing, and during laundering of contaminated clothing. Also, residences located close to a local manufacturer were exposed through airborne fibers.
What should an owner of a pre-1980s home be concerned about regarding asbestos? Homeowners should look for loose, crumbling, or disturbed ACM in their homes. This could be present in attic insulation, piping insulation, textured ceilings, sheetrock, and more.
Organizations around the world continue to work toward a total asbestos ban. Although this is good news for potentially halting asbestos mining and the manufacturing of ACM, you must be aware of the possible presence of asbestos, especially if you live in an older home. The only way to be sure is to have a qualified professional perform an inspection. The EPA only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material.
Give Paragon Environmental a call at 303-529-1257. If needed, we can remove any asbestos following strict OSHA, EPA and CDPHE guidelines. We can solve your problem and give you peace of mind, so call today!