Mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks the protective lining of the body’s vital organs. Most often, malignant cells form in the outer lining of the lungs and the inner chest wall. However, mesothelioma can attack the heart and other organs as well. Most victims of mesothelioma are those who have worked with asbestos, and may have been exposed to asbestos fibers, dust, or particles.
For more than a century, asbestos was an ideal material for use in the construction industry. It was fire-retardant, inexpensive, and had high electrical resistivity. Then, in 1929 the first lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer was filed in the United States. Unfortunately, asbestos litigation continues today. According to the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, 10,000 people a year die from asbestos-caused diseases in the United States, including one out of every 125 American men who die over the age of fifty. Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no general ban on the use of asbestos.
The EPA, however, has this to say about asbestos: “Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.” So how can you reduce your risk? If you happen to work in the construction industry, especially installing heat or acoustic insulation, or if you do fire-proofing, roofing, or flooring, visit the EPA’s website to educate yourself about dangerous products that may contain asbestos in your workplace.
If there is asbestos in your home, the best thing to do may be to leave asbestos-containing material that is in good condition alone. If you’re not sure if there is asbestos in your home, but you are concerned, you may want to hire a professional asbestos inspector. This is also important if you plan to remodel your home or if you think that asbestos-containing material is damaged and appears to be unraveling, fraying, or breaking apart. If this happens, immediately keep pets and children away from that area and refrain from disturbing the material. For instance, if the asbestos-containing material is flooring, you should not walk on it. Immediately contact an asbestos professional for consultation. While removal is not always necessary, and asbestos-containing material can be fixed using an enclosure, it is important for you and your family’s safety to call in a professional.