How Do I Know If I’ve Been Exposed to Asbestos?

By | May 4, 2011

Simply hearing the word “asbestos” can bring about a number of different reactions in people. Some believe that asbestos isn’t a threat where they live or work, so they don’t worry about it. Some people worry about asbestos because they should – even if they’re not at risk. Some people might have the risks of asbestos exposure and not worry about it, and for some people, the word “asbestos” in and of itself can be alarming. So who’s right?Well, asbestos is a nasty thing, so if you’re worrying about asbestos exposure, you’re probably in the right. Being exposed to asbestos can lead to disease and cancer, and having the knowledge that you could have avoided the asbestos in the first place can be a truly tragic thing indeed. Knowing whether or not you’ve been exposed to asbestos can also have a dramatic impact on your financial life, as asbestos exposure that leads to cancer can certainly mean there are people at fault – and there are damages to be awarded.

But first, the important question to deal with is to know whether or not you’ve actually been exposed to asbestos. So before you even worry about a case, it’s important to understand whether asbestos has been a risk for you in the past. If asbestos exposure is a possibility, then your own medical problems might be a result of that exposure – and you certainly want to find ways to pay for your medical bills once you have this knowledge. Let’s take a closer look at asbestos and learn what exposure really means.

Defining Asbestos

First, it will help if we have a basic knowledge of what asbestos really is. According to the state of New Jersey:

“Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. It is mined and milled from rock and is thin and strong. Chrysotile (white asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos), and Crocidolite (blue asbestos), are the most common types of asbestos used in manufacturing. Rarer forms are Tremolite, Anthophyllite, and Actinolite. When viewed under a microscope, Chrysotile fibers are pliable and cylindrical and are often arranged in bundles, whereas Amosite and Chrocidolite fibers appear to look like tiny needles.”

When you’re talking about something that looks like tiny needles under a microscope, you certainly don’t want to be near it – and you definitely don’t want that substance in your body causing damage over time that can really lead to serious medical problems. If you weren’t worried about asbestos exposure before, simply knowing the truth about it can be enough to make you think twice.

It also helps to understand that there are actually different types of asbestos, and while some are more dangerous than others, there aren’t really any types that you’ll want to be exposed to. For example, people working with Crocidolite or blue asbestos have generally shown higher instances of Mesothelioma and cancers. It’s a nasty thing and you’ll want to avoid it at all costs.

Understanding Where Asbestos Usually Is

One way to start to discern whether or not you’ve actually been exposed to asbestos is to understand where asbestos generally shows up. Using the same source (the government of New Jersey), we  understand that asbestos will typically show up in blown-in attic insulation, plaster, vinyl floor tiles, floor tile glue, window caulking, siding material, and other general construction items that are associated with the basic infrastructure of a home or building. Although today’s buildings are built according to a much safer standard, older homes and buildings can still contain asbestos, especially if they haven’t been brought up to code. Working in an older office setting, for example, should probably set off some alarms in your mind.

Buildings that were generally built in the 30 year period after World War II have a particularly high risk of asbestos presence, which means that buildings and offices built from around 30-70 years ago might have asbestos in their construction. Newer buildings, built after we’re more aware of the dangers of asbestos, should generally not worry you as much.

If you’ve developed a medical condition that only seemed to arise after a particular exposure to one specific building, such as at a new job, then that might be a way of raising a few alarms as to the presence of asbestos in that building. You’ll want to try and understand when your medical problems first developed if you’re going to understand the possibility of asbestos exposure in your own life.

Asbestos Exposure and What It Means to You

Obviously, no one wants to be exposed to asbestos – it’s simply something that should have never been used in construction and something that needs to be wiped out. But if you’ve already been exposed, then there’s nothing you can do. However, there are actions you can take in order to pay for medical bills, or to get a building up to code. When it comes to the law, you’ll want to find out if the asbestos you were exposed to is someone or some company’s fault so that you can seek money damages. If you work in an old office building, you’ll want to bring up the possibility of asbestos exposure in order to get things up to code. Your health is more important than the other risks you might take in avoiding asbestos, so don’t be afraid to even seek a new job if you’re legitimately worried about the possibilities of asbestos exposure.

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