How Much Exposure to Asbestos is Harmful?
Asbestos—these days it seems like a relic of a bygone era. Like so many things that have dropped off of the headlines, it seems like something you needed to be concerned about when your parents were children or when you were young. Coming into contact with asbestos doesn’t seem like something that you should still worry about in the 21st century. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as the exposures of the past can cause health problems today. In fact, exposure to this dangerous substance continues even now, although on a reduced scale due to government regulation. Given that, you need to know how much exposure to asbestos is harmful.
Is There a Threshold For How Much Exposure to Asbestos is Harmful?
Because of the way that asbestos impacts health, there is not a minimum amount of asbestos exposure that may be harmful. Although a single exposure often will not lead to a negative health impact, no one knows for sure at what point the asbestos exposure level creates a risk of developing a serious health condition.
How Are we Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos was used extensively in the U.S. before the 1990s, and it can still be used today for any use developed before 1989 that is not specifically banned. Before the health impacts of asbestos were better understood, exposure to it was greater. There are stories of workers in shipbuilding factories in WW II working all day in a cloud of asbestos-laden dust. Given the regulation of asbestos use today, how is anyone still coming into contact with asbestos?
Asbestos exposure occurs when asbestos is disturbed and becomes airborne. It can enter the body either through the mouth or nose and enter the lungs or stomach. For example, you can still find materials made with asbestos in some homes and buildings. When a home that has materials made with asbestos is renovated, or when a material such as ceiling tiles or wallboard that contains asbestos is broken or drilled, asbestos particles can become airborne. People in the immediate area suffer first-hand exposure to the particles and can ingest them by inhaling or swallowing them.
Asbestos exposure does not necessarily end with those on the scene. People exposed to asbestos may also carry the particles away with them on their clothes, hair, and skin. As a result, their families may also be at risk of second-hand asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure to the family and children of people who work with the substance can lead to health impacts to them as well.
How Does Asbestos Affect Your Health?
Asbestos is dangerous when it is ingested, either by being inhaled or swallowed. When asbestos is inhaled, it enters the lungs. Due to the shape of the fibers, asbestos particles can travel deep into delicate tissues.
How much exposure to asbestos is dangerous depends on what the fibers do and how the body responds to them. Once in the body, these fibers are difficult to eliminate, and they can lead to lung cancer, especially in people who smoke. Asbestos may also lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other types of cancer. The health impacts from asbestos exposure usually occur long after exposure, often 10 to 40 years later.
How Much Asbestos Exposure is Harmful?
Here’s the bottom line: No one knows exactly how much asbestos exposure is harmful, so any exposure is potentially dangerous. Even the smallest exposure may have negative health impacts that do not become known for years.
Although asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, its concentrated use in certain materials, such as in fire resistant construction and other building materials, means that some people will have concentrated exposure to asbestos. This can be particularly dangerous.
If you want to discuss how much exposure to asbestos is harmful in your situation, Nemeroff Law Firm is here to help. With over 150 years of collective experience fighting to help victims of asbestos exposure, we will fight to recover what you and your loved ones deserve. Contact us at 866-342-1929 or via email.