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Exposure to asbestos happens more often than you'd think

If you are like most Louisiana residents, you probably believe that companies and industries no longer use asbestos in their products. You may know that occasionally a construction project may cause the release of some asbestos, but you may think that is the extent of it.

For many people, exposure to asbestos is an antiquated thought since they don't work in industries in which workers are vulnerable to this exposure. If they are around products containing asbestos, they either don't know it or are in no danger until or unless the asbestos in the products is disturbed.

It may be easier to be exposed than you think

The problem is that you may be at risk for exposure to asbestos and not realize it, and if you are aware, someone most likely downplayed the threat. In fact, even governmental agencies dismiss the health threat of exposure to this toxic substance in some instances. However, you should know that there is no "safe" level of exposure.

If you live with or have significant contact with, someone who works in an industry in which asbestos sneaks up on people (such as the construction or shipbuilding industries) then you may suffer exposure without realizing it. After spending the day in an environment where this toxic substance is prevalent, that someone could come home with fibers and dust on his or her person and clothing that you could inhale.

Working in an office, school or other business does not necessarily eliminate the threat. Many older structures contain products using asbestos, and when renovations or even repairs happen, asbestos fibers or dust could end up in the air. Because this particular fiber was heat resistant, it was widely used in products for insulation and fire protection. Many homes also contain products made with this substance. Something as simple as a DIY renovation project could lead to your exposure.

Certain people run a higher risk than others do

Of course, you may already be aware of your potential exposure risk if you work in a profession in which asbestos was widely used in the past. For instance, if you work as one of the following, you may be exposed to this toxic substance:

  • Mason
  • Machinist
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Welder
  • Roofer
  • Drywaller
  • Steamfitter
  • Boilermaker
  • Carpenters

This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, if you served in the U.S. Armed Forces, you may have been exposed to asbestos. The service branches in which the most exposure occurred include the Army, Coast Guard and Navy.

Other people who suffer asbestos exposure do so in catastrophic events such as fires or building collapses. For instance, nearly everyone has seen photographs of the people near the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11. That dust contained numerous toxic chemicals, including some of the approximately 400 tons of asbestos used to build the towers.

It could take years to know the results

It could be decades before you know whether your exposure will lead to any adverse health consequences. In the meantime, if you know that you suffered exposure to asbestos, it may be worthwhile to take certain steps in order to preserve vital information that you may need at some point in the future.

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