Today, it is known that asbestos, a fibrous type of mineral, causes cancer and other health problems. However, this wasn't always the case. Before the 1980s, construction workers often used asbestos as a cheap and versatile way to insulate and fireproof buildings, and many older buildings still contain this toxic substance. If you live in an older house, or if you're involved in the construction industry, it's important to know how to protect yourself from asbestos exposure. Here are three ways you can stay safe.
Know which materials are riskiest.
Since asbestos is durable and fireproof, it was used in a wide variety of building materials, as well as other common materials. Here are some of the places you're most likely to find asbestos.
This isn't an exhaustive list, so don't assume something is safe just because you don't see it here. It's best not to take any chances when it comes to asbestos.
Never disturb materials that may contain asbestos.
Asbestos is dangerous when it's inhaled. The microscopic fibers travel into a person's lungs, where they can become lodged in the delicate tissue and cause scarring, inflammation and cancer. The only way to be sure you won't inhale asbestos is to keep it out of the air in the first place. Do not touch, move or shift any material that may contain asbestos. If you work in the construction industry, or if you're working on a home improvement project, avoid sanding, cutting or drilling anything that might have asbestos in it. If you're not sure if something is safe to touch, get it tested by a professional.
Call a Professional
Generally, undamaged materials that contain asbestos are not dangerous as long as they're left undisturbed. But if you think you have unsafe materials in your house, or if you want to start a project that might involve asbestos exposure, call an asbestos professional for an evaluation. An asbestos inspector can run tests that will tell you whether the substance is present in your home. If you need to have asbestos removed or sealed, an asbestos contractor can get rid of it safely. Whatever you do, don't endanger your health by trying to fix the problem yourself.
Asbestos is a common health threat, but by educating yourself about the risks and using caution around potentially dangerous materials, you can avoid accidentally inhaling it. Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself and your family from asbestos exposure.
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