Between 1940 and 1979, it is estimated that roughly 230,000 deaths were caused by asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. During this time, more than 30 million tons of asbestos were used in U.S. homes, schools and commercial buildings, as well as in the industrial sector. In the industrial sector, asbestos was commonly used in power plants, shipyards, and steel mills.
Asbestos is currently banned in countries such as Australia , Argentina , Chile , Croatia , and Saudi Arabia , though several countries such as Russia and Canada still mine asbestos. In the U.S. , the substance is strictly regulated, but it is not totally banned. As a result, nearly 10,000 asbestos-related deaths still occur annually in the U.S. While asbestos is no longer a common building material in the U.S. , this dangerous substance can still be found in thousands of different products and materials. Keep in mind that asbestos had been used in more than 3,000 products from 1900-1980.
Asbestos can be found in everything from asphalt and boilers to wick and yarn. In the case of boilers, duplex blox was a common building material, possibly, until the early 1980s. Duplex blox is a type of insulation used on hot water tanks and on boiler pipes. Previously, the safe-handling of duplex blox was not monitored or taken very seriously.
Today, the dangers of handling duplex blox are well-known. Because the handling of duplex blox releases dangerous asbestos fibers, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) currently offers the following guidelines for handling and removing the material: wear a respirator approved for use with asbestos, use wet procedures for clean-up, do not use power operated or other tools to cut or drill because this can create respirable dust levels, and keep all asbestos-containing products out of the reach of children.
It is important to note that everyone from homeowners to construction, heating and insulation workers may have been exposed to asbestos between 1940-1980 or so. The period of time between exposure to asbestos-containing duplex blox and the onset of symptoms is estimated at 20 to 50 years. Signs of mesothelioma may include shortness of breath, pleural effusion, and pain in the chest, abdomen, shoulder or arm, as well as weight loss, anemia, fever, and bowel obstruction.
Mesothelioma may be diagnosed through physical examination, chest x-ray, complete blood count (CBC), sedimentation rate, bronchoscopy, cytologic exam, or biopsy. Traditional treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy or radiotherapy.