According to the World Health Organization, about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a toxic substance that has been mined and used in North America since the late 1800s and its use increased greatly during World War II.
The term asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers.
These fibers are heat, fire and chemical resistant, and do not conduct electricity. Due to these characteristics this toxic substance has been used widely throughout the world in building and insulation materials, brake and transmission components, conduits for electrical wire, and sheet vinyl or floor tiles to name a few.
Symptoms Of Asbestos Exposure
• Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
• A persistent cough that gets worse over time
• Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from lungs
• Pain or tightening chest
• Swelling of the neck or face
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Fatigue or anemia
Health Issues Related To Asbestos Exposure
Many people may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, communities and even their homes. If products that contain this toxic substance are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released in the air.
When the toxic substance is inhaled asbestos fibers may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long while and over time the fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing.
Although all forms of asbestos are considered hazardous different types of asbestos fibers may be associated with health risks ranging from severe respiratory problems to lung cancer.
Individuals who feel that they have been exposed to asbestos at work, home, or through the environment should meet with their doctors immediately.
What Is Being Done To Ban Asbestos?
In 1989, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created an Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule that was intended to ban all manufacture, processing, distribution, importation and use of this toxic substance in the United States.
However, in 1991 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the final rule alleging that the EPA failed to supply sufficient evidence to justify an asbestos ban.
The court did uphold the portion of the Final rule that banned the new manufacture of asbestos containing materials as of 1990.