People who have heard of asbestos generally associate the toxic fiber with industrial machines, construction jobs and military vessels. It is true that these are just a few of the environments in which asbestos was commonly used and can still be found today. However, people may be surprised to learn that asbestos still lurks in places that many of us visit on a regular basis.
Asbestos exposure can be extremely dangerous. As many of our readers know, today, many people live with mesothelioma that was caused by asbestos exposure decades ago. Unlike many other conditions, mesothelioma takes a long period of time -- sometimes as long as 40 years -- to become noticeable in a patient. Because no amount of asbestos is safe to be around, it is imperative that all companies in North Carolina and elsewhere ensure that their workers, customers and others are not at risk of exposure.
It should be no surprise to property owners that asbestos is commonly found in several different areas of many different buildings. For decades, the toxic fiber was used as an inexpensive way to insulate and fire-proof materials used in office buildings and homes in North Carolina and across the country. While asbestos may not present an immediate health hazard to people when it is intact, it can be very damaging if it is disturbed and asbestos dust is released into the air.
Decades ago, many buildings in and around North Carolina were constructed using products that contained asbestos. The use of these materials was quite common because asbestos was relatively cheap and the properties of the material provided effective sound absorption and resistance to fire. Whether asbestos was used in a building's insulation, floor tiles or cement, it was a very popular practice to construct buildings using the fiber.
We have discussed how workers in certain occupations can be much more affected by exposure to asbestos than others. For many years, people in North Carolina and all across the world were working in jobs where they breathed in or came into contact with asbestos without proper protection or warnings by employers.
When we read about the victims of asbestos exposure, we may notice that many of them are older, retired and perhaps enjoying time with their grandchildren or even great grandchildren. This is because people who developed asbestos-related illnesses often did so after working at companies for many years where asbestos was present, and it can take decades for people to be diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. By the time a person learns that he or she has developed a terminal illness, it may be 50 years after they were exposed.
Many buildings around North Carolina were built using products that contained asbestos. So even though it was not widely used after the 1980s, it still exists in many homes and buildings today. It is in the roof, the insulation, plumbing and even floor tiles. But too many property owners assume that asbestos poses no threat if it is not undisturbed. But there is still a very serious risk associated with having asbestos on a property.
Living or working in a building that you do not own has a fair share of perks. You don't have to worry about code violations, cleaning up spills on the site, fixing broken equipment or dealing with complaints from tenants. However, there are a fair number of building owners who do not take these and other ownership responsibilities seriously and their negligence can end up seriously hurting those inside the building.
Many people often consider a school to be among the safest places for young people to be. We generally expect that these buildings are built and maintained properly by people who understand how important it is to protect the health and wellbeing of young children and staff members inside. However, a recent discovery in a school shows just how dangerous these buildings can be if they are not maintained appropriately.
Readers of this blog need no reminder that asbestos is a dangerous and even deadly material. Exposure to this once-popular insulation material can cause a number of serious medical conditions including mesothelioma.