If you were to call to mind the type of individual who would be living with a disease associated with asbestos exposure, you may think of several different people. There’s the former shipyard worker who handled insulation. There’s also the retired maintenance man who spent a lot of time near the boiler room. Even the elderly wives of individuals who worked in these positions can become sick from washing contaminated work clothes.
In short, you probably thought of an older person who was exposed to the hazardous material as an adult working in a risky industry. The image of a child kicking up dust on the school playground probably never entered your mind. However, this scenario also presents a situation in which an individual can be exposed to asbestos, potentially leading to respiratory problems in life earlier than what is typical.
At Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, we want to make sure that all your loved ones are safe, regardless of age.
Asbestos may be more dangerous for children
The danger of asbestos is that it may lead to potentially fatal diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma and other types of cancer. While this is a problem that may affect people of all ages, the likelihood of exposure may be heightened for children because their lungs and bodies are still developing. Experts from the Children’s Environmental Health Network point out that kids tend to have a breathing rate that is more rapid than that of adults, leading them to take in more air. Furthermore, young children often have a habit of putting their hands in their mouths, which can be dangerous if their hands are dirtied with contaminated dust and soil.
When it comes to babies, the lack of food variability can increase the risk of asbestos exposure because infant formula requires water. If the source is tainted by asbestos-containing cement pipes, the baby could come into contact with the mineral.
Looking out around the house
The popularity of asbestos during the 20th century led to its use in common household products, such as insulation around pipes, stoves and furnaces. Asbestos was also present in vermiculite, roofing shingles, siding, older floor tiles, certain electrical appliances and spray-insulation. If a product manufactured during the 20th century is not clearly labeled as asbestos-free, you should assume that it is tainted.
The good news is that if the asbestos-containing material is in good shape, the likelihood of it releasing dangerous mineral fibers into the air is low. As such, the product should be left alone and undisturbed. However, if you discover that the material is deteriorating, or you plan on making some renovations, you must take the proper precautions.
Do not try to remove asbestos yourself. Hire a professional who is credited for such a task within your local jurisdiction.
Make sure the schools are compliant
Children may also come into contact with asbestos through their schools, particularly if the buildings they work in are old. The mineral is likely to be found in the insulation materials, floor and ceiling tiles and spray-applied fireproofing. As with asbestos that is found in the homes, there is no danger associated with products that are left undisturbed.
In order to ensure that your children are protected in school, make sure the facility has a written asbestos management plan, which is required by federal law. Also, see if the school is aware of what products around the building contain asbestos. Once found, everyone on campus needs to know that these products must not be disturbed or harmed. An example of such trouble would be students bouncing basketballs off ceiling tiles that were manufactured with asbestos.