Asbestos isn’t something that is typically thought of as a home building material, but the truth is that many common components in domestic construction included asbestos until supplies were exhausted following its ban by the federal government in 1978. Textured paint was among the materials that frequently contained asbestos and may have been used as late as 1985.
It is impossible to determine asbestos content with a cursory visual inspection. It is generally unwise to disturb suspected material, but carefully removing a sample of the material for laboratory analysis can confirm suspicions or ally fears. Homeowners are not legally required to test for asbestos content of textured paint, but contractors involved in painting or renovating an area must have any suspected substance analyzed in order to protect their workers.
Disclosure of asbestos risk to employees is now mandatory, but it wasn’t always this way. Through most of the twentieth century, many workers were unknowingly subjected to asbestos exposure on the job. Since symptoms of asbestos related illnesses do not surface until up to 40 years after the exposure, some victims aren’t even aware of the risks they took. Companies who denied their employees the right to know also cheated them out of opportunities to pursue medical monitoring. They also lost the chance to take preventative measures that would have reduced their risk of contracting asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related lung cancers.
In addition to wearing protective clothing and respirators in the workplace, those who encounter asbestos in their jobs need to take care to not bring asbestos fibers into the home on their work clothes. If workers are not aware of their own exposure to asbestos, they may also inadvertently expose their family members.
A single inhaled asbestos fiber, too tiny for the naked eye to detect, that has lodged in the lungs or abdomen is all it takes to set the stage for asbestos-related illnesses. Workers who were involved in the manufacture of textured paint or anyone involved in the removal or clean up of such a substance may have been exposed to asbestos by an employer who was hiding the truth. Anyone diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other lung cancer related to asbestos should immediately seek the counsel of an experienced attorney. Compensation may be available for injury related to asbestos exposure that might have been prevented if the employee had only been informed.