How much do you know about asbestos?

Asbestos often seems like an antiquated word, something now obsolete, a throwback to the 1960s. You might remember certain products that manufacturers and salesmen promoted as "flame retardant" because they contained asbestos. Once people started learning how dangerous microscopic asbestos fibers can be to human health, the powers that be instituted regulations regarding its use.

For some reason, many pushed asbestos to the back burner; in fact, for a long time, people scarcely mentioned or thought about it. However, spray insulation and other things like floor tiles, cabinetry or, even, automotive parts often still contain asbestos. If you work, live or frequently visit an area that happens to have asbestos in the air, you can contract a serious, often terminal illness. Many Pennsylvania residents who have already received such diagnoses are currently involved in asbestos litigation.

Remember these facts

Your employer has an obligation to inform you if your workplace contains asbestos. The following list provides basic but important information regarding this potentially dangerous material:

  • Asbestos isn't a single item. It's actually a collection of any of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals.
  • Asbestos typically enters the body in one of two ways: ingestion or inhalation.
  • Contrary to popular, misguided belief, it is not illegal to use asbestos in the United States, although approximately 50 other countries have completely banned it.
  • More than 15,000 deaths occur in the U.S. every year that have a connection to asbestos injuries.
  • There is no safe amount of asbestos exposure.
  • More people die from asbestos illnesses than skin cancer.
  • If you have an older home, there might be asbestos in your walls, floors, cabinets, pipes or ceiling.

While there are certain acts, such as the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database Act, that help increase transparency and provide valuable information meant to help protect consumers, workers and residents of Pennsylvania and all other states, the fact remains that the United States still allows use of asbestos, and asbestos is still highly dangerous.

How did so many people get sick?

One of the biggest problems that led to tens of thousands of asbestos-related injuries in this country has been employers who were aware of high-risk situations but purposely did not inform their employees or, in some cases, did not provide proper training and safety equipment.

The effects of asbestos injury are not always immediately apparent. You may have initially contracted an asbestos-related disease a decade or more ago before experiencing physical symptoms of your illness. That's why it's never too late to reach out for support if you believe you contracted an asbestos disease on the job.

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