Either through an at-risk occupation such as mining, heavy industry, construction, or pipe fitting, or from handling consumer products including hairdryers, curling irons, or kitchen appliances, exposure to asbestos is a common hazard. While the most frequent method of asbestos exposure involves breathing in the tiny fibrous minerals, inhalation does not present the only danger.
Countless individuals face devastating conditions due to ingesting the material itself or objects that have been contaminated. Examples can include:
- Swallowing the asbestos that has become airborne
- Drinking water that has been contaminated by asbestos
- Eating food, such as clams, that have been contaminated by asbestos
- Swallowing water while swimming in water that has been contaminated by asbestos
In addition to ingestion and inhalation, people can be exposed to asbestos through skin contact. While the fibers are generally too large to be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, direct contact can still lead to problems. The asbestos fibers can become lodged in the skin leading to serious irritation, calluses or corns.
It is important to note that while asbestos fibers will not often be absorbed through the skin, these fibers on the hands can be transferred to food and ingested. Additionally, fibers trapped on the skin can be taken from an at-risk location and into the proximity of unsuspecting individuals. This can lead to secondary exposure including domestic or familial exposure.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was found, centuries ago, to have unexpected protective properties. These soft, flexible fibers are heat-resistant and were used in consumer products as well as construction materials for hundreds of years. When these products were destroyed or deteriorated through use, the tiny asbestos fibers were released to be ingested or inhaled by workers and consumers alike.
Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos can lead to numerous deadly conditions including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. If you fear you were exposed to asbestos due to your occupation or consumer products in your home it is wise to discuss your situation with an experienced legal professional.