Environmental asbestos exposure can occur in many different ways. Some people have secondary exposure because a family member works with asbestos. Others have direct exposure because of their jobs.
Usually, job risk comes from actually working with asbestos. Vehicle mechanics, shipbuilders, construction professionals and those working in factories are among the various employees who could be at risk for workplace asbestos exposure.
However, there is another, possibly significant source of risk for workers in the United States. “Legacy” asbestos is present in millions of buildings around the country, including many workplaces. What does that mean for you?
Legacy asbestos is left over from a time before modern regulations
Although there has been evidence supporting the medical connection between asbestos exposure and serious illnesses for more than a century, it has only been a few decades since the government took decisive action to protect workers by limiting exposure levels and demanding protective measures from employers.
Asbestos has played a role in the creation of everything from vehicle components and Navy ships to big buildings. Properties ranging from prisons to schools could have asbestos used in the building itself or in some of the materials used for construction.
While asbestos remediation remains a booming business, some building owners simply try to sequester the asbestos by trapping it in place, such as by new flooring down overalls products that contain asbestos as an insulator. Currently, there is still significant debate about the risk posed by legacy asbestos.
While the government debate about asbestos continues to rage, workers exposed to asbestos through their job or workplace environment may wind up developing severe illnesses that require treatment. The more you know about possible sources of asbestos exposure, the more empowered you will be to take action after a diagnosis with an asbestos-related disease.