Sadly, there are many people who were exposed to asbestos as part of their job. Some may have known they were working with asbestos, but were not aware of the deadly nature of it, and some may have been exposed to it without realising it was asbestos, or the deadly nature of it.
The highest incidence of mesothelioma is found in those who worked in construction industries, including most notably, shipbuilding. But, any construction job at that time could have included exposure to asbestos, simply because of its widespread use.
Asbestos is a very useful material because of several great properties it displays; it’s incredibly insulating, it’s amazingly fire retardant and its flexible nature means it can be shaped to fill any nook or cranny. These properties made it a godsend for the military, who used it extensively in their ships and submarines. But the military were not the only people to use asbestos in building projects.
It was also used extensively by civilian construction companies too. They used it as insulation and, if your house was built before the year 2000, you will almost certainly have asbestos in your loft, on your pipes, included as loose fill under floorboards, in cavity walls and possibly lagging your hot water heater too. But, that’s not the only place you might find it in your house, or in other buildings for that matter.
Asbestos was also used in floor tiles, in cement construction products, panelling – both internal and external, ceiling tiles and on ceilings and walls in the form of Artex paint as well. Worryingly, many of these uses were implemented in the building of schools. As a result of this, as well as construction workers being at high-risk, so are teachers.
However, there’s no need to panic if your house was made before the year 2000 – it doesn’t mean you’ve been exposed to contaminated dust, it just means you need to be super careful if you decide to redecorate or remodel your home. The danger only surfaces if you disturb the asbestos and breathe in the contaminated dust. So, if you think you may have asbestos in your home or place of work and you are unsure about what to do about it, get it checked out before you do anything. Don’t risk exposure!
Contact your local council and ask them to investigate, they have a legal obligation to do so. If you think you are at risk of being exposed to asbestos in your place of work, you can contact the building managers, who should have detailed plans of where the asbestos appears in the building.
There is another way that you may have been exposed to asbestos – from your parents or partners clothing. There have been cases of the wives and children of shipbuilders developing mesothelioma simply by breathing in the dust from contaminated work clothes and equipment. So this is another factor that you need to consider if you think you are displaying the symptoms of this deadly disease.
Never seen asbestos before?
Pictures of asbestos related products can be found on the HSE Asbestos gallery. Further in-depth information about mesothelioma, including the emotional effects,what your employer should be doing to protect you and possible future treatments can be found in Mesothelioma – What You Need to Know