Asbestos Exposure Comes from Many Sources

The typical perception of asbestos exposure is of people who are exposed over long periods of time in very specific industrial settings. While it’s certainly true that the majority of patients diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma or cancer from asbestos usually have worked in asbestos related occupations for a number of years, this isn’t the one source of exposure.

Asbestos Exposure Isn’t Always a Result of Asbestos Jobs

Exposure to asbestos in the past has often been found in the most unlikely of places. For instance, hand-held hair dryers used asbestos in them for years to prevent overheating of the heating element. As a result, millions of women were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. While this didn’t happen for hours at a time, it was still very dangerous because the exposure was repeated and the fibers and particles were being actively shed and dispersed into the air every time the appliances were used. Finally, the asbestos was concentrated exactly where it was most dangerous – near the face, where inhaling the particles was inevitable. (Also read The Link between 9/11 and Asbestos Cancer)

Damage Resulting from Asbestos Exposure Affected by Several Factors

Hair dryers can no longer be made with asbestos in them, but their use as recently as the early 1980s illustrates some of the various conditions that determine just how detrimental exposure to asbestos may or may not be depending on several factors. There are several things that affect how potent exposure to asbestos is in any given situation:

Asbestos Exposure - Old roofing containing asbestos

  • How much asbestos an individual has come into contact with and for how long a period of time. These can be conversely proportional. For instance, long-term exposure to low levels of asbestos may be just as dangerous as a one-time exposure to high levels of asbestos. Asbestos related occupations such as shingle and brake pad manufacturing provide the “double whammy” of both relatively high levels of asbestos and long-term exposure on nearly a daily basis.
  • Public Health Risks of Exposure to Asbestos

  • The type of asbestos. All forms of asbestos exposure are hazardous to your health and carcinogenic; however, some forms of asbestos are worse than others. Amphibole is more dangerous than either chrysotile or crocidolite, but exposure of any kind is dangerous.
  • Source of exposure. Those who work with blown-in insulation or other products that contain asbestos in a highly friable form are at greater risk than those who handle asbestos in solid manufactured products such as tiles. The inert asbestos in tiles and vinyl flooring becomes a problem when it is removed or otherwise disturbed so that product dust is in the air, but not when the material is undisturbed or sealed properly.
  • Smoking. Numerous studies over the years have indicated that asbestos exposure is extremely dangerous in its own right, but if an individual smokes he increases his risk of developing cancer or some type of pulmonary disease related to asbestos jobs is increased exponentially.

Exposure to asbestos in any way, shape or form has the potential to permanently damage your health. To determine if your pulmonary disease symptoms are a result of asbestos related occupations or exposure from some unexpected source, be sure to talk to your doctor. Asbestos exposure causes debilitating, sometimes fatal, complications and you have the right to know.

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