By now, it’s pretty clear that asbestos is bad for you. There’s literally no “safe” level of exposure to the material, which is why its use was largely eliminated from commercial products in the United States and strictly regulated where it can still be used.
It may be somewhat discomforting, then, to realize that you may be drinking the stuff.
Asbestos cement pipes are everywhere — and they’re aging
Asbestos cement (AC) pipe was widely used in water systems throughout the United States from the 1930s through the mid-20th century. They were light, resisted corrosion and had other advantages that made them seem like a good idea at the time. That was before, of course, people realized how dangerous asbestos could be to humans.
Studies have indicated that there are roughly 600,000 miles of AC pipe out there — and most of it is reaching the end of its expected lifespan (about 50 years). This is a massive problem because items that contain asbestos are generally harmless until they start to decay and release those tiny asbestos fibers all around.
In the case of AC pipes, which can be made of 12% asbestos fiber, that can mean that all those fibers are going straight into your water. Even if you use filtered drinking water, the odds are high that you’re still using tap water in your coffee, cooking, showers and laundry.
The problems with the pipelines have no easy fix
There’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s disruptive, time-consuming and expensive. While plans are being made to fix the infrastructure in the future, it’s still wise to be conscious of the risks you may face today.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma and numerous other diseases. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma that may be related to long-ago exposure, talk to a legal advocate who understands the issues you face and knows how to look for all the compensation you may be due.