People who are familiar with diseases like mesothelioma are commonly worried about asbestos exposure in San Francisco. The EPA and CPSC have banned the use of most asbestos products in construction, but cutting or disturbing materials that contain these harmful fibers can lead to severe health issues. If you suspect your home may have asbestos, schedule a professional asbestos test before beginning any home improvement projects.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used in a variety of construction materials beginning in the early 1900s and up until the late 1970s. Asbestos was also used by most branches of the U.S. Armed Forces as insulation for vehicles, ships, and aircraft. The name asbestos describes a group of naturally occurring mineral silicates that crystallize into bundles of thin filaments. Asbestos cannot be identified visually and must instead be sampled, tested, and analyzed by a qualified professional.
How Can I Be Exposed to Asbestos?
Areas in proximity to asbestos mines can have higher concentrations of asbestos particles in the air due to weather and erosion inside the excavation tunnels. However, most people suffer asbestos exposure when nearby asbestos-containing construction materials are disturbed in some way. Drywall, insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, paint, and cement are just a few of the products that were once made using asbestos fibers. Asbestos exposure typically occurs after inhaling contaminated air.
What are the Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure?
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, most of them are removed through exhalation and coughing. If the body’s defenses fail to eliminate all of the fibers from the lungs, inflammation and scarring caused by the trapped particles can lead to decreased lung function. Long-term exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma cancer, asbestos cancer, asbestosis, lung disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In most cases, it takes as long as 20 or 30 years for the harmful effects of asbestos exposure to manifest. Today, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually, and the same number die each year due to asbestos-related lung cancer.