One of the many popular industrial uses of asbestos is for insulation of service areas, such as machine room ducts. Asbestos-containing materials may be encountered in crawl spaces, wall cavities and spaces in between the roof and the ceiling. And that is why workers who crawl through asbestos-containing machine room ducts are likely to suffer and/ or die from mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer.
All of us have been exposed to asbestos at one time or another in our lives. But most people do not suffer from the contact since this is only gotten through low levels of asbestos found in the soil, water or air. Those who develop asbestos-related diseases are the ones who encounter asbestos frequently, such as workers who do maintenance for asbestos-containing machine room ducts.
It is not merely those who crawl through machine room ducts who are at risk. Aside from the workplace, there are those who could be exposed to asbestos at home, in school or in the community. According to research, there are also cases when members of the household of people greatly exposed to asbestos are at risk of mesothelioma. This is reportedly due to asbestos fibers sticking to the skin, hair, shoes and clothing of the person frequently exposed to asbestos-containing materials.
Once materials containing asbestos are disturbed, fibers become airborne. When a person breathes in these fibers, they could get stuck in the lungs for a lengthy period of time. Frequent exposure will cause the fibers to accumulate, resulting in inflammation and scarring of the lungs. Remember, contact with asbestos may not burn, drown or wound a person but when the related disease manifests after 10 years or more, it can be as devastating.
Since the early 40’s, workers in the following industries/ professions have been exposed to the health hazards related to asbestos:
- Asbestos textile manufacture
- Asbestos milling
- Asbestos mining
- Shipbuilding industry
- Construction industry
- Insulation works
- Asbestos abatement
- Demolition works
- Drywall removal
- Firefighters and rescue
- Automobile industry
Fortunately, stringent government regulations, improved safety measures and work practices and widespread awareness about asbestos, workers without prior exposure to asbestos are in far less danger than those people exposed in the past. Unfortunately though, the heroes of the 9/11 WTC attacks are a group of people at risk of asbestos-related diseases. The WTC North Tower was constructed using asbestos materials and it released hundreds of tons of asbestos when it collapsed, exposing the firefighters, paramedics, police officers and volunteers to the deadly asbestos fibers.