Asbestos, a group of naturally occurring minerals, is widely known as a hazardous substance. Because it is so dangerous, asbestos safety is crucial. Thanks to the substance’s natural resistance to heat and corrosion, it has been popular in numerous industries for centuries. The so-called “miracle mineral” rose in popularity in the 1900s. These qualities made asbestos especially valuable in industrial applications in the United States. The following industries used asbestos heavily:
- Pipe Fitting
- Brick Laying
- Automotive Repair
- Electrical Work
- Naval Shipyards
However, exposure to asbestos fibers has been linked to multiple negative health effects. Tiny asbestos fibers are very friable, which means that they turn into dust. This dust is then inhaled, where it damages the lungs. Inhalation of asbestos dust causes multiple asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. In fact, asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. This link has led to years of asbestos litigation, with attorneys like the Vogelzang Law team representing those harmed by asbestos. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helps protect the public from asbestos. The EPA monitors air and product quality. Asbestos is not completely banned in the United States, but agencies like the EPA help to limit its use in consumer products.
ASBESTOS SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE
Asbestos exposure most commonly occurs in the workplace, since asbestos is most often used in industrial applications. Occupational exposure accounts for the majority of all asbestos exposure in the United States. The material is usually found in products like the following and more:
- Brake pads
- Sheet Metal
- Floor Tile
Other products have also used asbestos, including fabrics used to make firefighter suits.
Since workplace exposure creates a potential danger for employees, regulations have been put in place. These regulations and the federal agencies that oversee them aim to protect workers on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide safe workplaces. As such, it oversees working conditions and sets standards for employee safety and provides training programs.
When it comes to asbestos, OSHA has set air quality minimum requirements that help protect individuals who frequently work near asbestos. These rules state permissible levels of asbestos in the air in any given jobsite, which help set exposure limits. Specific OSHA rules apply to the shipyard industry, construction industry, and general industry.
Exposure is especially risky during construction, repair, or demolition projects, when asbestos dust is most likely to be disturbed as it is removed. This type of asbestos danger commonly affects construction workers and those working in ship repair. Those who work in the manufacturing industry also experience risk during the production of items like textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials.
Air quality regulations are only one piece of OSHA protections. The agency also requires employers to provide protective equipment. Asbestos must be safely contained in regulated areas to prevent dangerous contact.
ASBESTOS SAFETY IN THE HOME
Family members can be exposed to asbestos even if they do not work with it. Asbestos-containing materials can be found in the home as well. One common method of at-home exposure is secondhand. This happens when one family member works with asbestos and accidentally brings dust into the home. Often, other family members breathe that dust while doing laundry. This can result in mesothelioma diagnoses for spouses and children. Some personal care products are also currently facing litigation due to alleged asbestos contamination. This includes recent litigation against talc companies and their cosmetic products.
Other sources of asbestos in the home include tiles, insulation, and other building materials. These were often made with asbestos. In fact, many buildings made before 1980 have a higher risk of asbestos. The material was frequently used in roofing shingles, pipes, boilers, cement, and more. If a home contains asbestos, it is important to contact an abatement professional to remove the material safely. Attempting to remove asbestos alone can lead to deadly exposures, since special protective gear is needed. If homeowners discover potential asbestos products in their home, it is important to leave it undisturbed until professionals arrive. This limits the risk of creating dust which is then easily inhaled by family members.
Common Asbestos-Containing Materials:
- Roof Shingles
- Vermiculite Insulation
- Ceiling Tiles
- Floor Tiles
If asbestos is found in a home or business, it is best to contact removal professionals. Asbestos abatement professionals are trained in the safe and effective removal of asbestos-containing materials. This includes things like asbestos insulation or tiles in homes, schools, and businesses. By testing properly for the substance and following strict guidelines, these professionals ensure the safety of residents.
Even though asbestos is considered safest when undisturbed, products and building materials can become damaged with age. Home renovations and even natural disasters can also expose asbestos. If asbestos is found in the home, abatement professionals advise homeowners to leave the material as-is and contact removal experts. These experts prepare the removal site by sealing all openings, posting proper warning signs, using specialized vacuums, and more. Asbestos disposal is also highly regulated. All asbestos waste must be tightly sealed in containers while wet and taken to specific landfills that can prevent further contamination.
For individuals who have been exposed to dangerous asbestos, legal action can offer a path to justice. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that devastates families. Although the disease moves quickly, the litigation process can provide support for those experiencing hardship.
Our firm works closely with families to ensure that corporations are held responsible for the harm they have caused with asbestos products. As working families face a difficult diagnosis, our team connects clients with the resources they need, from medical support to community organizations and charities. These lawsuits help pave the way to better asbestos safety in the future and protect working American families. Reach out to our firm if you or a loved one need legal guidance.