Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been used in various constructions throughout the world for years. As long as the material is not disturbed, there is a lessened risk to those that come in contact with it.
The problem starts when the asbestos fibers making up the product get released into the air.
When the fibers are inhaled, they can cause serious illnesses like mesothelioma and other lung related diseases. A compounding factor in this problem is that the effects of exposure to this mineral usually take a long time to become apparent, so most affected people were exposed to the toxin as children or many years ago.
While the use of this material has been heavily restricted in much of the developed world, it is still a present danger. That is why there is now a 3rd wave of sufferers coming to light.
The Progression of Asbestos Victims
There are three different waves of asbestos victims that can be identified. The first wave of sufferers were those that worked in the mining industry and had been exposed to the mineral underground.
The second wave was discovered after tradesmen working with products containing asbestos in various buildings started to become sick.
The newest wave, or the third wave, are commonly people who have done their own home renovations on older homes.
They unknowingly disturbed asbestos when completing do-it-yourself projects like remodeling bathrooms, pulling out carpet, and doing tasks under the home.
Many homes that were built 50 to 70 years ago came to a point where updates were necessary. Those updates were completed and then 10 to 50 years later the person that did the work is now suffering.
Other people in the third wave are known as bystanders. These are the people that came in contact with asbestos through others, most often as children in the homes of parents that worked with it.
Kris Penny’s Story
Kris Penny was a worker for a phone company in the early 2000s. His job was to install fiber-optic cables underneath the streets of Florida.
That sounds like a normal job, except for when you introduce the presence of asbestos.
He is a prime example of the third wave of asbestos sufferers. As he squeezed through manholes and ran conduit, he was kicking up asbestos fibers. At times, he said it would become so thick that they would have to remove themselves from the area.
About 15 years later, Penny got extremely ill. After a trip to the emergency room, it was discovered that his stomach was full of cancer. In just six months, the mesothelioma had taken away his quality of life.
He claims that the company that he worked for never told him that the area he was working contained asbestos.
The company, BellSouth that is now part of AT&T, claims just the opposite. They stated in a lawsuit that he did know about the asbestos and the reason for him getting cancer is because of his own negligence.
His current outlook is bleak, with those suffering from mesothelioma generally only living a year or two, but doctors are confident they will be able to give him as much time as possible with his family.
Asbestos Practices Now
Even though 55 countries have banned the use of asbestos, the United States and Canada still have not made it illegal. Many construction, shipyard, and other industries still use the material because of its strength and durability.
It is a mineral that has proven to provide the heat resistance along with insulation that is desired without the immediate concern of dangerous illnesses.
Because the effects of asbestos can take 10 to 50 years to become noticeable, many companies have not taken exposure to this carcinogen seriously. Supervisors have been known even today to cut corners on the necessary protection simply to reduce expenses.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illness were forgotten about for a long period of time. As a result, people were no longer kept informed of what to look for or what the toxin has the capability of doing.
To prevent more people and families from suffering as a result of exposure to asbestos, this knowledge needs to be shared.
Groups like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization have created Global Asbestos Awareness Week and other social media campaigns; multiple ways of communicating this essential information are continuously being explored. The number one goal is to ban this dangerous compound in all countries around the world.