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What Should You Do If You’ve Been Exposed To Asbestos?

Whether you’ve undergone a home renovation project or you grew up in a pre-war building, you may be concerned about your exposure to asbestos—the fire-retardant building material frequently used before the mid-1970s. Although it’s unlikely that exposure (even repeated exposure) to asbestos has caused you permanent harm, quick diagnosis is key to a good prognosis. Read on to learn more about asbestos and what to do if you believe you’ve been exposed.

What is asbestos, and why is it dangerous?

Asbestos was once prized as a building material for its flame-retardant qualities, and it was used in ceiling tiles, insulation, and other areas where fire was common. When asbestos is simply dormant in a piece of material, it poses no real harm. However, during demolition of asbestos-containing materials, harmful particles are released into the air and can be inhaled. These particles are especially harmful to lung tissue and, once inhaled, cannot be removed, so repeated or long-term exposure to “mobile” asbestos can cause serious pulmonary harm.

One of the most common diseases caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, or a rare type of lung cancer. Unlike other lung cancers, mesothelioma can affect other tissues in the chest cavity. For example, many mesothelioma patients also have heart issues because the asbestos has inflamed the exterior lining of the heart, or trouble swallowing because the asbestos has irritated the throat. 

What are some signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure?

In many cases, particularly if the exposure is mild or infrequent, no symptoms are present. However, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses often present themselves in a similar manner as other pulmonary diseases—with a dry cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. You may also notice yourself becoming more tired from routine activities, or winded when you move quickly or climb a flight of stairs. 

What should you do if you believe you’ve been exposed to asbestos?

If you’ve suffered asbestos exposure—whether it was recent or long ago—you should seek out a pulmonary specialist who can evaluate your lung capacity and screen you for any warning signs of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses.

If your home still contains asbestos material, or if you’re not sure whether your insulation or ceiling tiles are made of asbestos, you should contact a construction or contracting company that specializes in asbestos remediation, such as Infinity Enterprises. Don’t ever try to remove asbestos from your home yourself—this removal requires specialized training and equipment, as well as disposal with a certified biohazard facility. If you’re planning to remodel a home that was built in the mid-1900s or earlier, contact a contractor just to ensure that you won’t inadvertently be releasing harmful asbestos fibers into the air.

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