Asbestos exposure often is thought of as something from the past. The average age for a diagnosed victim of mesothelioma, the malignant lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, is 60 years old. And for those diagnosed with mesothelioma, their asbestos exposure did occur in the past because asbestos symptoms do not show up for 20 to 50 years afterwards.
But the truth is asbestos exposure continues to be a serious problem. Because of asbestos exposure, Men’s Health magazine, in a new article reprinted on the Fox News website, rated construction work as second among “The 5 Jobs Most Likely to Make You Sick”:
#2: Construction workers
“Falling objects and machines that turn digits into stumps aren’t the only on-site dangers. Roughly 1.3 million construction workers are currently exposed to asbestos, according to the American Lung Association. Small fibers of asbestos build up in your lungs over time, causing scarring that can stiffen your breathers–a condition called asbestosis. Asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma–a fatal cancer also caused by asbestos–can take decades to develop after you’ve been exposed to the toxin. If you’ve worked in construction, talk to your doctor about whether you should receive a lung cancer screening, which can also detect these conditions”.
Buildings and homes all over the US still contain hazardous asbestos materials. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, these are the construction materials that contain asbestos:
- Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.
- Resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.
- Cement sheet, millboard, and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood-burning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation.
- Door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
- Soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may release fibers. So will sanding, drilling, or scraping the material.
- Patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and textured paints. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos.
- Asbestos cement roofing, shingles, and siding. These products are likely to release asbestos fibers if sawed, drilled, or cut.