Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for centuries across the globe. However, from the 1920s to 1980s, it was incorporated into a wide variety of building materials, making its way into a large percentage of homes across the United States. While asbestos is known for its superior sound absorbing and fire resisting qualities, it is also, unfortunately, the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer. By understanding the dangers of this carcinogen, we can limit exposure and decrease the diagnosis rate of this often fatal cancer.
Asbestos In The Home
As previously mentioned, asbestos was used in many different building materials due to its ability to slow the spread of a fire if it were to occur. It was seen as a miracle mineral because of this, until it was later discovered that it can cause serious health complications. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used from the attic down to the basement, commonly found in insulation, roofing shingles, flooring tiles, plaster and boiler insulation. There are both friable and non-friable forms of asbestos, which indicates the mineral’s vulnerability to degrade. Many of the ACMs that were used in homes and buildings often incorporated friable asbestos, meaning they are easily prone to damage, which is where the danger arises.
When ACMs are damaged, asbestos fibers can be released into the air, where they can be inhaled or ingested. These airborne fibers can enter the body and cling to our internal organs. Over time, they can cause inflammation to surrounding tissue, and eventually lead to the development of cancerous tumors. Ten to fifty years down the line, you could end up being diagnosed with mesothelioma, as symptoms of asbestos exposure take decades to occur. This is why it is vital to know the dangers now—to avoid potential health problems later in life.
Staying Safe From Exposure
If you live in a home that was built before the 1980s, there is a chance that it is harboring ACMs. If you suspect that there is asbestos, you should have the materials tested. An EPA-certified professional will be able to tell you how widespread the asbestos usage is within your home and what the steps will be to abate the materials. While asbestos abatement is typically not cheap, it is worth mitigating the risks associated with exposure.
If you would rather keep the ACMs in place, they can be patched up and sealed from further damage; however, this option is riskier as there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. With that said, sealing the materials and ensuring you have high-quality air filters in place can limit the possibility of exposure and make your indoor air safer. It is recommended that you utilize HEPA filtration in your home. Most residential systems are not compatible with HEPA air filters, but air purifiers that use HEPA filters are ideal way to purify the air in your home. HEPA filters are built to absorb microns both above and below 0.3 microns. Asbestos fibers range in size from 0.2 microns to around 90 microns.
It is important to limit certain activities if you are aware that asbestos is in your home. There has been a recent wave of exposure among homeowners who renovate their homes by themselves. They are unknowingly exposing themselves when breaking down walls, tearing out old insulation or breaking up floor tiles. While renovating can be fun and affordable to do on your own, it should be done with the proper safety measures in place.
High Quality Air Filters
Mesothelioma Awareness Day
September 26th marks the 17th anniversary of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, a day designed to raise awareness of this rare cancer and the dangers of asbestos exposure. Help your family and neighbors by making this information readily available to them and be sure to follow the necessary steps to keep yourself safe from this carcinogen.
For more information, please visit Mesothelioma.com.
EcoBlueLife.com is a replacement water and air filter company located in the United States. The views and opinions contained herein are solely those of the original author and do not represent Eco Blue Life or its affiliates. This article was originally published on FiltersFast.com