Asbestos Protection and Mesothelioma Prevention
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that has ravaged the respiratory systems of countless people as a result of asbestos exposure. The substance known as asbestos was regularly used for all kinds of applications from brake pads, to electrical insulation, to building materials from the 1800s all the way to the 1970s until the ties between asbestos exposure and respiratory illness became undeniable. To this day, asbestos can still be found in some buildings that were constructed before 1980 and it still harms many people that develop illnesses like mesothelioma. It’s important that everyone be aware of how they can be at risk for asbestos exposure and what they should do to protect themselves from this toxic mineral.
What Exactly is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a silicate mineral that comes in six natural varieties that are composed of long thin fiber-like crystals. It is a natural material that is still mined to this day and processed for many uses despite its known deadly qualities. While this affords asbestos many useful qualities like fire resistance and excellent insulation, it also can be a cause for serious health issues. The thin microscopic fibers that make up asbestos can be inhaled and get into the lungs leading to asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos Exposure
The most common health condition that exposure to asbestos causes is known as mesothelioma. This disease is a type of cancer that takes the form of malignant tumors that line the lungs that breathe in asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma tumors may also develop in the stomach, heart, and other neighboring organs. There are more than 3,000 cases of mesothelioma that are diagnosed every year in the United States with most cases caused by exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is a very severe form of cancer that can be very difficult to fight. Many of those that develop mesothelioma do not survive their illness and those that do may have to contend with lasting health issues. Mesothelioma is treatable with early diagnosis in the early stages improving the chances of successful treatment but in most cases it is incurable. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, painful coughing, weight loss, and shortness of breath.
Asbestosis Caused by Asbestos Exposure
When asbestos gets into the lungs its microscopic fibers can end up causing extensive scarring of the lung’s lining. This severe scarring caused by asbestos exposure is known as asbestosis. There is no cure for asbestosis but treatment can help slow down the progression of the disease development and help to manage symptoms it causes. Asbestosis takes time to develop in the people that are exposed to asbestos with most people not developing symptoms until 20 years after initial exposure to asbestos.
Most people that end up developing asbestosis are those that come into contact with a high volume of asbestos such as miners, construction workers, and industrial workers although it still can develop less commonly among people exposed to asbestos in homes, through asbestos tainted products, or those that live near asbestos mines or processing centers. Asbestosis is generally caused by the breathing in of asbestos fibers so exposure to non-airborne asbestos fibers contained in certain products or that are intact and not friable significantly decreases the risk of asbestosis development. However, these forms of asbestos are still dangerous and should still only be handled by certified disposal personnel with the appropriate training and equipment.
How Are People Exposed to Asbestos?
As mentioned before, most people will be exposed to asbestos when it is airborne and gets into their lungs to cause severe damage. People that come into contact with asbestos as part of their job are at the highest risk of exposure to the substance in a way that can put them in harm’s way. The general populace is put at risk for asbestos exposure when they go into buildings that have been built before 1980. These buildings may have been built using materials that contain asbestos.
Even after very long periods of time, asbestos is still very dangerous. Older buildings can decay in ways that send asbestos fibers up into the air. Sometimes the air content may be perfectly fine in these buildings that contain asbestos but any kind of disturbance can run the risk of sending asbestos into the air. Many people are exposed to asbestos when they renovate old buildings they may not realize have asbestos. For example, drilling, sawing, demolishing walls, retiling, etc. can all expose asbestos and send it airborne.
Proper Protection From Asbestos
First of all, only those that have the training and are certified to handle asbestos should have any business being near the substance. In the event that you do run the risk of exposure to asbestos, it is imperative that you wear protective equipment.
Personal Protective Equipment for Asbestos Exposure
This consists of a respirator that is rated specifically for protection from asbestos and protective disposable clothing like coveralls, gloves, and shoe covers. These should be rated for protection from hazardous substances as well and not simply be additional clothing worn as a second layer. Coveralls should not have external pockets or velcro since asbestos particles can find their way into them and create trouble later. The wrists should be taped to prevent asbestos particles from getting up the sleeves. Footwear should be smooth and nonslip without laces or fasteners on the outside and they must be covered with protective single-use shoe covers. Plain rubber boots are typically chosen for this although other options exist. The legs of the coveralls should be worn over the tops of footwear and not tucked in.
Respirators preferably should be full face and should cover the entirety of the face with a coverall hood protecting the rest of the head with no hair at all exposed. Respirators should use HEPA or P100 rated filters. Regular dust masks do not protect from asbestos and half masks can leave parts of your face and your eyes exposed to asbestos particles that can land on them and possibly harm you. Some people use a half-face respirator in conjunction with goggles which is acceptable but not as effective as a full-face respirator. A respirator needs to be fitted airtight to the face to create a proper seal so no facial hair since it interferes with a proper seal.
Proper Disposal of Asbestos
It should also be noted that proper disposal of asbestos is another integral component of proper protection from this substance. All protective gear worn when dealing with possible asbestos exposure should be peeled off carefully to not disturb any lingering asbestos particles and disposed of in sealed bags in an appropriate asbestos disposal facility. Not a regular garbage can. Personal protective equipment should mostly be single-use and anything not should always be properly cleaned with either a wet single-use wipe or an asbestos grade vacuum.
All of this must be undertaken after decontamination procedures are implemented. This typically consists of having all surfaces of protective gear wiped down with a single-use wipe that is wet in an isolated and sealed area. A special asbestos grade vacuum can be used as well. This should preferably be done with the assistance of others also wearing protective gear although it is possible to decontaminate on your own. A respirator should be worn the entire time and should be the final piece of protective gear removed after it has been wiped down and in an area free of potential asbestos exposure. Even once all of this is done, you should still clean and shower yourself immediately to ensure any possible stray asbestos particles are neutralized.
Who is Liable for Asbestos Exposure?
In the event that proper safety protocol is not adhered to when dealing with asbestos then someone can risk developing severe health issues. There are times where companies may not provide safety gear up to standard or may not follow the correct procedure when decontaminating or disposing of gear exposed to asbestos leading to employees getting sick. The owners of properties can also be liable if they do not ensure that their property is tested and properly cleaned of asbestos. The manufacturers or designers of protective gear can be liable if their products are defective and expose people using them to asbestos.
Those liable for asbestos exposure can end up as defendants in a personal injury lawsuit filed by people that develop illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. These lawsuits can hold those whose negligent actions cause people to develop asbestos-related respiratory illnesses accountable and also get those affected the compensation they deserve.
Seek an Experienced Florida Mesothelioma/Asbestos Attorney
If you need a mesothelioma attorney, do not wait. The clock starts ticking the moment that you receive your diagnosis. The sooner you start working with an attorney, the sooner that attorney can start working on your behalf to file your claim and ensure that you receive the support you need.
Contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights, conduct a free claim evaluation, or start the process of filing your mesothelioma claim today. The sooner you start working on your claim, the more likely you are to recover compensation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(833) 700-MESO