July 19, 2016 PACENVIRO

Asbestos: Top Four Myths vs. Realities

Asbestos was once very widely used, and is probably around more today than most people think. Prior to the early 1980s, however, the hazardous mineral could be found at just about any industrial job site in the nation, and a myriad of products made at these sites were shipped to homes and businesses across the nation. Although a lot of this ended with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strict regulations in the late 1970s, there are still a lot of myths about asbestos circulating around.
 
Myth #1 Asbestos is Completely Banned
 

While the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other organizations continue to work for a total ban on asbestos, the truth is, it’s still legal in the U.S., albeit with much stricter regulations. What this means for consumers is that there may be small traces of asbestos in common items. In fact, in 2015, EWG’s Action Fund discovered that several brands of crayons were still being made with asbestos.
 
Myth #2: Small Amounts of Asbestos Are Safe
 
The American Cancer Society, along with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state that there is “no safe level of asbestos.” Although people are more likely to develop toxic illnesses when they’re around larger quantities of asbestos fibers and for longer periods of time, this doesn’t mean that inhaling only a small percentage of asbestos will not cause life-threatening illnesses.
 
Regardless of how much or how little asbestos you’re around, you should always take the utmost caution and protect yourself as much as possible.
 
Myth #3: I Can Abate Asbestos Myself As Long I Wear The Proper Safety Gear
 
While it’s true that you can attempt to abate asbestos yourself (which is sadly common sometimes when it comes to DIY home improvement projects), the problem is that most people who aren’t properly trained and licensed on asbestos abatement are putting themselves and other people in the area at risk, regardless of how careful they are. Asbestos fibers are tiny, odorless, and undetectable to the human eye, and can easily become airborne and inhaled. Professionals are thoroughly licensed and trained on how to properly handle asbestos in a way that keeps people within the vicinity safe.
 
There are also a number of state and federal laws in place when it comes to asbestos abatement, including when and how to wet asbestos, proper disposal, and much more. Your health and the health of others is not something that should be taken to chance, especially when there is help out that there that can ensure you have a much better chance of safety.  
 
Myth #4: Asbestos Companies Are No Longer Responsible When People Become Sick
 
Since asbestos is hardly used at job sites anymore, a common myth is that companies who no longer use asbestos in their materials and products are no longer responsible for the health damages that occur due to asbestos exposure. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth, and mesothelioma lawsuits continue to increase.
Mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and other asbestos illnesses can lie dormant for up to 50 years in the body before the first symptoms appear. Even if the companies responsible for exposing people to asbestos are no longer in business, this doesn’t mean they are completely off the hook. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers have an uncanny way of researching and determining where the responsibility lies. In many instances, asbestos manufacturers and other businesses set up trust funds, as mandated by courts, to compensate both past and future asbestos litigation.
 
We would like to thank Katherine Keys with the Mesothelioma Lawyer Center for contributing this article to Pacific Environmental Group.