Asbestos is not completely banned in the United States and continues to pose a health risk. Second-hand exposure is possible for members of exposed workers, as asbestos fibers can be taken home with clothing. People living near mines can also be exposed to asbestos fibers released into the air. Asbestosis (as-bes-TOE-sis) is a chronic lung disease caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers. Prolonged exposure to these fibers can cause scarring of lung tissue and shortness of breath. Asbestosis symptoms can range from mild to severe and generally only appear many years after continuous exposure.
An excess of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma is an indisputable indicator of asbestos exposure in the past. However, due to their long latency, mesotheliomas asbestos management lag behind indicators of danger. The latency of lung cancer is not that long and rates drop 40 years after exposure to asbestos has stopped .
Asbestos-related diseases (mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis) are known as occupational diseases. As the use of industrial asbestos is eliminated, ARDs are more prominent within the general community of para-professional, environmental and natural exposures. ARD groups have been investigated in communities such as Broni, Italy; Libby, Montana; White-uncle, Western Australia; Karain, Turkey; Ambler, Pennsylvania; and elsewhere. Community ARDs pose specific public health problems and challenges. Community exposure results in a higher proportion of mesothelioma in women and a younger age distribution than occupational exposures. To address community exposure, regulations must address all elongated carcinogenic mineral fibers.
Controversial legal issues include the claimant’s ability to demonstrate that the manufacturer could and should have taken steps to alert the user to the risk. It can be difficult to demonstrate that a given exposure caused or contributed cancer many years later. Legal agreements could provide useful funding for future efforts to remove more exposure from the community and to finance the community support programs discussed later in this document. Workers’ exposure to asbestos risks is addressed in specific OSHA standards for the construction, general and shipyard sectors. Airborne asbestos levels should never exceed the exposure limits of legal workers.
Incorrect elimination can even increase the health risks for you and your family. Before performing minor repairs, follow all precautions described above to take samples of asbestos material. Always moisten the asbestos material with a fine water spray containing a few drops of detergent. Commercial products are available designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas.