Should I be concerned about Asbestos Exposure?

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Asbestos exposure, in on itself, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll later contract an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma. To contract mesothelioma, you would need to breathe in asbestos fibres during the exposure, and even then, development of an asbestos-related disease isn’t a given.

The challenge however is that there is no way for you to know whether you’ve inhaled asbestos fibres as they won’t cause physical symptoms or changes for decades, so it’s best to make a note of your exposure, the details and timings around the event, and to report it to the necessary authorities so they can inspect the scene to see if asbestos is present. You should also report it to your GP. While they’re unlikely to recommend any treatment, they will log this in your file for future reference in case you develop lung problems later in life.

That said, asbestos exposure is still serious as it has the potential to harm others as well as yourself. In a public setting, any works that involve the removal of asbestos are controlled by very strict practices and procedures where very heavy fines and penalties can be applied if the rules aren’t followed. Companies and contractors that undertake work of this kind are often licensed and closely regulated to safeguard their employees and the public.

There are rare circumstances however where exposure to asbestos is still possible.

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As a hangover from its heyday, asbestos still exists in some buildings, appliances and workplaces as it’s often safer to leave it ‘as is’ than it is to disturb it, which risks releasing the fibres into the air. Consequently, asbestos can still be found in schools, hospitals, ships, older buildings, cars and in many other older items. Therefore, teachers and medical staff have been known to suffer from asbestos-related illnesses due to this low-level exposure.

As a visitor to usefuldiyprojects.com, the above scenarios are unlikely to affect you unless you happen to live in a home or work in a building constructed before the 1980s. Construction carried out before the 80s frequently employed the use of ceiling tiles, floor tiles, flashing and shingles that all used some form of asbestos. If you’re regularly making changes around the home or have visions of knocking down walls or pulling down ceilings, it would be worth your while to review the conveyancing paperwork you received when buying the house to see when it was built and whether any dangers were highlighted as part of the home-buyer’s report. If your home was built before the 1980s, there’s a real danger that major works could result in low-level asbestos exposure.

The same is true for builders and contractors who frequently work in the homes or workplaces of others. Where older buildings are involved, precautions need to be taken to ensure no asbestos materials are present, and if they are, to have a plan on how to work around them. Without these safeguards in place, routine exposure to asbestos is a very real possibility and can have life altering consequences decades later.

Identifying asbestos isn’t easy and should not be attempted by an amateur. There are two approved methods for analysing materials for the presence of asbestos and those are Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), both of which require specialised and expensive equipment, as well as the know-how to work with them, so it’s better to hire professionals to do this for you.

If you happen to expose yourself to asbestos in a private setting because you haven’t taken the right precautions, then there’s very little you can do besides hiring in a clean up crew to make the area safe again. If, however you’ve been exposed to asbestos as a consequence of your work, and it later leads to respiratory illness, then you may be able to seek legal help and support. For many, this will take the shape of a claim for mesothelioma compensation. Employers are obliged to protect their employees from known and foreseeable risks in their work. If you work as a surveyor, or are involved in maintenance, renovation or construction, there’s a real possibility that you’ll come into contact with asbestos during your career. As such, employers should provide training and protective equipment to prevent any asbestos exposure from occurring; this could include the provision of filtration masks and suits to reduce the risk of inhalation or transmission on your clothing.

In summary, asbestos exposure is serious, but provided you take the steps to report it and to notify your GP, you shouldn’t worry about it as there’s no way to know with any certainty as to whether it’ll be detrimental to your health in the long run.

Photo courtesy to: greendatabase.org

 

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