Every year, almost one and a half million people in the United States are exposed to hazardous asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a group of naturally produced fibrous minerals that are extremely dangerous when inhaled or ingested. Because asbestos fibers are heat and chemical resistant, have no odor or taste, and don't evaporate or dissolve in water, the mineral was widely used to manufacturer a large number of products worldwide.
Common Places Asbestos Is Found
Asbestos fibers are commonly found in the steel, plumbing, electrical, and insulation industries. Asbestos fibers were also manufactured in a variety of household products including paint, heat resistant fabrics, ceiling and floor tiles, plastics, roofing materials, and more.
Dangers of Asbestos Fibers
In the early 1900s, the dangers of asbestos fibers became evident. Asbestos fibers easily tear apart and become airborne. If the fibers are inhaled or ingested, they transfer to body tissue, where they become permanently lodged, resulting in serious illnesses such as asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, respiratory complications, and other serious conditions. These diseases can remain dormant for years and even decades following the initial exposure.
While the fatal effects of exposure to compromised asbestos fibers have been understood for many years, some manufacturers and employers continue to use the mineral in their products or fail to regulate the safety levels outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The permissible level of asbestos exposure in the workplace is 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter during an eight-hour workday and one fiber per cubic centimeter in any 30 minute time period.
Other laws and regulations have been enacted to protect people from hazardous exposure to asbestos, as well as permit victims of asbestos exposure to file asbestos lawsuits to seek recovery for their damages.