Despite the fact that asbestos is a known carcinogen, according to OSHA, every day in the United States almost 1.3 million people will go to a workplace where they will be exposed to significant levels of asbestos.
In the past, exposure to asbestos was concentrated in the milling and mining of raw materials, as well as with those engaged in construction and product manufacturing. The heaviest exposure to asbestos among workers in the U.S., occurred during the 1960’s and 1970’s, declining steadily from that point on as regulations were put into place.
Latency Period for Asbestos-Related Diseases
The latency period for asbestos is anywhere from 10-40 years, meaning those workers exposed to asbestos during those decades could just now be seeing diseases associated with asbestos, particularly mesothelioma.
In the past, primarily pipe fitters, shipyard workers, military workers, auto mechanics, and the families of asbestos workers were exposed to asbestos dust (workers would carry home asbestos dust on their skin and clothing, and that dust would be inhaled by others in the household).
Where Could You Be Exposed to Asbestos?
While asbestos which is embedded into solid materials pose little risk of asbestos exposure so long as it remains undisturbed, during renovations or asbestos abatement materials containing asbestos should be encapsulated or removed by certified asbestos abatement teams.
Today, those in the construction trades, as well as those in homes and buildings with loose, crumbling, or disturbed asbestos are the most likely to suffer problems from exposure to asbestos.
It is estimated that more than 32,000 people died between the years 1999 and 2010 from exposure to asbestos.
The most likely places you could have been exposed to asbestos includes the following locations:
-Construction, renovation and demolition of commercial and residential buildings
-heating & cooling equipment repair facilities
-automotive repair businesses
-wiring or cable companies
-roofing, manufacturing, and janitorial jobs in buildings containing deteriorating asbestos
Specific companies (this is not an exhaustive list, merely a sampling of the many companies which could still expose you to asbestos today) include:
- Anco Insulations
- Asbestos Corporation Limited
- Equitable Shipyards
- Eagle, Inc.
- Hopeman Brothers, Inc.
- Foster Wheeler
- Union Carbide Corporation
- Various companies operating at the Port of New Orleans
As if the many places above were not enough for countless Americans to unknowingly be exposed to asbestos, consider the following:
One of the most shocking places you could be exposed to asbestos is in your own home, particularly in your ceiling. If your ceiling appears to have the “popcorn” texture so popular in the 1970’s, or is made up of “tiles,” it could possibly contain asbestos. Other surprising places asbestos can be found in the home are:
- Flame-resistant materials, particularly those used in flame-retardant pajamas for children
- heating elements of older appliances, particularly hair dryers and popcorn poppers
- Filters for cigarettes have small amounts of asbestos
- Baby powders which contain talc could also contain small amounts of asbestos fibers.
Diseases You Could Develop Due to Asbestos Exposure
There are a number of serious diseases which can result from asbestos exposure, including the following:
- Lung cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Abnormalities in the lining of the chest cavity.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important that you contact an experienced asbestos attorney who can help you determine your best course of action.