A recent pipe explosion in New York City sprayed asbestos onto the street, surrounding buildings and lingering in the air. In Washington state, an asbestos removal company was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for exposing workers and the public to asbestos dust. In New Orleans, parents confronted charter school administrators for potentially exposing their children to asbestos during an improper removal. This all happened within the last month.
You don’t have to work in construction to be exposed
It is a mistake to think that only construction industry workers can be exposed to asbestos. Anyone from school custodial staff to people simply in the wrong place at the wrong time can breathe in asbestos fibers.
Asbestos is found in a large part of American infrastructure, from school buildings to residential homes. It is still used in some manufacturing process and products today, including brake pads.
In addition, asbestos has recently been found in makeup and other talc products. People who used baby powder for decades are only now suffering from the effects of the deadly carcinogen.
Not least, secondhand asbestos exposure is also a problem, since asbestos will cling to hair, clothes and boots, exposing loved ones to asbestos fibers in the home.
Asbestos is still a problem
While asbestos has faded from public knowledge somewhat, 3,000 new mesothelioma diagnoses occur every year. It is estimated that approximately 15,000 or more people die annually from asbestos exposure in the U.S., and asbestos accounts for about half of all deaths related to occupational cancer globally.
While asbestos is not used as much as it once was, and asbestos mining is now illegal in the U.S., it is by no means a problem of the past. And, unfortunately, it is a problem that is more widespread than commonly thought.