This is Asbestos Awareness Week, and during this time, many entities are attempting to raise the public’s knowledge of the dangers posed by asbestos. One news release was from the Minnesota Department of Health (DOH), and while that state is far away from California, the risks faced by California residents and workers are the same.
Asbestos is mistakenly believed by many to be a problem from the past. They may think that only old shipyard workers from decades ago who develop mesothelioma, and that because they work in a high-tech, “modern” job, they do not need to worry about asbestos-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma.
The warning from the DOH points out that anyone renovating a home or building that was constructed prior to the 1980s is at risk for asbestos exposure. And because so many people are unaware of the myriad of products where asbestos was used, they may unknowingly expose themselves and their families to the potentially deadly fibers.
Perhaps most frighteningly, they could expose their children with seemingly innocent remodeling projects, and 20 or 30 years from now their children could develop the first tell-tale signs of asbestos-related illness, such as a persistent cough.
They, having been too young to remember the home renovations, would be baffled as to how they became exposed to an anachronistic disease like mesothelioma.
This is why it is so important to raise awareness of the threat posed by asbestos in the home. While asbestos can remain innocuous when left undisturbed, a weekend of drilling or sawing through the material can threaten all those may inhale the deadly fibers.
Source: Minnesota Department of Health, “Renovating a home or building? Avoid exposure to dangerous asbestos,” April 3, 2014