We live in a modern world; construction, renovation, development, and manufacturing are needed for this modernization. But do you know that this modern world is no longer safe for us? We breathe in a toxic environment. Nothing is safe for our health anymore. The environment around us is full of harmful substances. It will not be wrong to say that we live in an asbestos-coated environment. We are breathing, eating, drinking, or wearing asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It is a fibrous mineral and belongs to the silicate group of minerals. Silicate minerals form rocks and contain silicon and oxygen. It is present in the form of bundles of fibers that are composed of thin fibrils. These fibrils are durable and are of great commercial value. Asbestos is resistant to heat, chemicals, and fire, and many industries use it.
The use of asbestos on such a large scale is toxic for our environment and lives. Once it gets into the body, it stays there for life. It can cause terminal illnesses like mesothelioma. That is why asbestos is widely called “The Silent Killer.” The use of asbestos is far greater in developed countries than in developing countries. Asbestos use in China, Russia, India, Canada, and the United States is higher than other countries. The use of asbestos on such a large scale affects people’s health. Fortunately, there is increasing awareness among people, and now they are filing lawsuits against these companies. According to a map search, Pennsylvania is in the top three states where asbestos-related deaths are the highest in numbers. Lawyers here provide excellent services.
Commercial use of asbestos:
Asbestos is used widely in the industrial zone. Because of its heat and fire-resistant nature, it is used in construction as an insulator in roofing, fireproofing, and sound absorption. Cloth, paper, and plastic companies use it on a huge scale. It is a very mineral for the shipbuilding industry as they use it for making boilers, steam pipes, and hot water pipes. The automotive industry is also dependent upon its use for making clutch pads and brake shoes. Many industries also use it for coating materials and making paints and adhesives. Other consumer products that use asbestos are home appliances, makeup products, plastic toys, hairdryers, cigarette filters, etc.
Asbestos-related occupations and risk of exposure:
Keeping oneself safe from asbestos exposure is very difficult in this industrial era. Millions of people are related to asbestos-related occupations. According to the data provided by The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, about 27 million workers were exposed to aerosolized asbestos between 1940 and 1979. Current data is even more alarming. About 125 million people worldwide get exposed to asbestos at their workplace. Occupations related to asbestos exposure are mining, construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding, firefighting, automobile repair, heavy industry, renovation, demolition, etc. These workers and their families have a high risk of getting asbestos-related diseases.
Harmful effects of asbestos:
On the brighter side, asbestos has brought ease and comfort to people’s lives on a commercial level. But we cannot deny the darker aspect either. It accumulates after entering the body and continues to harm. Today, many people are suffering from asbestos-related diseases. These are serious diseases and might be fatal. Some of them are as follows;
- Mesothelioma (A type of cancer that develops in the outer lining of an organ, mainly the lungs.)
- Lung cancer (Caused by the inhalation of asbestos and affects the lining of the lungs.)
- Other diseases include COPD, asbestosis, pleural effusions, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer.
How to limit/stop/safely handle the use of asbestos?
Asbestos elimination is a grave concern for The World Health Organization (WHO). The most recognized and effective way of eliminating asbestos is to stop the use of all types of asbestos. There are suggestions to replace asbestos with safer substitutes. Authorities have adopted procedures such as asbestos abatement to limit asbestos exposure. Following preventive measures in asbestos-related workplaces can diminish the chances of exposure. Respirators, disposable gloves, disposable coveralls, and protective kits can help. A specialized asbestos-based vacuum cleaner is better than the usual cleaner to clean up the area. In a residential area, authorities should advise people to remove asbestos-based products from their homes.
Despite continued debates and controversies, asbestos-based industries still expose their workers and consumers to asbestos. The history of lawsuits against such companies is long, but we still have not been successful in banning the use of asbestos on a full scale. Asbestos manufacturers are held responsible for the harm they cause through their products. Still, they always succeed in covering up evidence and finding an escape route. In countless areas, former workers of such industries are filing cases against these companies, and so are the consumers of their products. People with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation. In such cases, the liable companies are responsible for compensation such as medical bills cover-up and the lost wages cover-up.
Awareness about asbestos:
The workers must be aware, informed, and trained to avoid asbestos exposure. Many awareness programs are going on to inform and guide workers and consumers about the toxic effects of asbestos exposure. The working class includes plumbers, miners, construction workers, painters, roofers, electricians, decorators, demolition workers, plasterers, telecommunication engineers, etc. The health and information ministries must inform and guide the workers and consumers via mass and print media. Awareness websites are informative for online users. In addition, live webinars and seminars can also help create awareness among workers and people.
Asbestos is a silent killer. It does not tell or inform you that it is killing you. It does it silently without letting you know. It causes medical conditions with no prominent signs and symptoms. They only reveal when you have already progressed to a developed stage. The best way to deal with it is to avoid its use and exposure. Many industries use asbestos for making their products and items. Our houses and offices contain loads of asbestos, and our people in the working community are continuously getting exposed.
Asbestos is all around us. We must find ways to stop its use and exposure. The health sector and information sector should take the lead to create awareness among the general masses. There must be lawsuits against industries that violate the law by using toxic materials (such as asbestos) in their products. Authorities should train workers and educate families to avoid exposure.