Asbestos, though now largely banned, was used for many years in insulation, tiles and many other applications. At first, its resistance to fire and general durability made it seem like a very useful product, but the rise of asbestos-related diseases made it clear that it was just too dangerous for widespread use.
If you’re worried about exposure, you’re likely concerned about the form of asbestos you encounter. Is it dangerous to walk on old tiles? It is hazardous to remove old insulation? Is the very dust from asbestos a threat to your long-term health?
Breathing in asbestos
In fact, asbestos is at its most dangerous in dust form. The fibers need to enter your body to lead to mesothelioma and other diseases that can be fatal. They generally enter when you inhale them, and the fibers then become trapped in your lungs and other internal organs. There, it can take them decades to lead to a disease, but that disease can be incredibly aggressive when it finally presents itself.
This is not to say that there is no risk when working with asbestos in other forms, but you just need to be wary of working around dust. This could be created when pulling insulation off of old pipes, for example, or when using a sledgehammer to break up and remove old tiles. Every breath can increase the odds that you’re eventually going to be diagnosed with mesothelioma or a related disorder.
What can you do to protect yourself?
You need to start by using proper PPE to keep yourself safe, but there’s always a risk. If you do get a diagnosis of a health condition that relates to asbestos exposure on your job, then you need to know what legal options you have.