You might have heard about asbestos-containing products being found in older homes, but just what products are they? More often than not, insulation within the walls, around pipes, and other locations in the home contained asbestos. This is because asbestos was affordable, durable, and fire-resistant. It was not only used in homes, but in commercial and residential buildings of all kinds.
Those that worked to install or handled asbestos-containing insulation in other ways are at high risk for developing mesothelioma, an often-fatal asbestos-related disease. Many insulators cut off block and pipe covering, mixed insulating finish cements, and removed insulation within structures, which would allow asbestos fibers to be released into the air around them. Breathing in asbestos fibers is dangerous because the microscopic fibers can become trapped within the lungs and other parts of the body.
Once asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, mesothelioma can develop over time in the location where they have become stuck. Workers that dealt with a pipe, block, spray-applied, or other types of insulation should alert their doctor to the possibility of asbestos exposure in their lifetime.
The use of asbestos in these types of insulating materials has been limited to less than one percent. Still, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that there is “no safe amount of exposure for any type of asbestos fiber”. Today, employers are required to keep insulators safe on the job by providing the proper training and protective gear during their work around potentially hazardous materials, like asbestos.