Asbestos is a mineral that is used for many purposes around the world. In the United States, it has been used in products like insulation and floor tiles.
When asbestos breaks into fibers, it can be breathed in. This makes it dangerous because those fibers can scar the lungs, esophagus and other areas of the body. If that happens, a person might suffer from mesothelioma, lung cancer or other serious complications.
Is asbestos always hazardous?
No, asbestos is not always hazardous. In fact, when entrapped, like when the asbestos is contained in a tile or flooring, it won't cause problems. However, if those tiles are broken or flooring is pulled up, the asbestos fibers could be released into the air and cause injuries.
How long does it take to suffer an injury from asbestos fibers?
It's difficult to say. There is no level of asbestos exposure that is considered safe for humans. Additionally, mesothelioma has been caused in some humans after as little as a few days of exposure to the fibers.
What can you do if you were exposed to asbestos?
If you were exposed to asbestos, it's a good idea to let your doctor know and to make a note of it with your employer. You can ask to see a medical provider through workers' compensation if the exposure has caused symptoms like coughing or irritation.
Asbestos-related illnesses may not appear until many years after exposure, so it's necessary to let those around you know if you were exposed and to monitor yourself for symptoms of more serious illnesses.