In the age of fake news and preposterous lawsuits, it can be a convoluted minefield trying to separate fact and fiction. This is certainly accurate when it comes to comprehending the dangers of Asbestos.
There are all kinds of ludicrous mythologies, misapprehensions, and just downright bad advice, when it comes to this insidious material. Here are some of the most common misconceptions we hear and the truth behind them.
Only The Elderly Are Affected By Asbestos-related Diseases
If you ticked the ‘true’ box, you’d be wrong.
Respiratory diseases caused by asbestos, such as mesothelioma, can affect anyone at any age. However, these diseases usually develop so slowly that the adverse effects might only become evident 10 years down the track. Despite some rare cases of early signs of impact, often it is not until after 50 when evidence of the disease appears.
Perhaps it’s this belated onset that has brought about the misconception that it only affects the elderly. It’s more true that the elderly reap the consequences of young misfortune.
Asbestos Must Be Removed Immediately When Found
This is actually not such sage or safe advice. There are two types of asbestos as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- Friable asbestos material means any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry.
- Bonded asbestos material (non-friable) means any material, other than friable asbestos material, that contains asbestos.
If you have the friable kind in your house get a professional in immediately. Bonded material on the other hand is actually often better left in place. It’s the fibrous material that can enter the surrounding air, that is the real danger – so long as it’s left uninterrupted, and is not damaged, it won’t cause any harm. In fact, it’s actually safer to leave it in place in most cases.
You’re Safe If You Wear A Mask
Who would’ve thought the humble face mask would become such headline news this year? As with anything with so much hype and attention, mythology abounds, and so it’s worth understanding a little better.
While a mask is certainly effective and a respiratory one should definitely be worn whenever working with or surrounded by asbestos, it is not the perfect protection by any means when it comes to asbestos. Asbestos fibres can linger and remain airborne for long periods of time: a DIY project can leave you and your family vulnerable.
If you ever get the chance to watch a removal specialist in action, you will see that they will not only wear a high quality respirator, but they also cover themselves in some serious protective clothing. Further, their expertise means they will take time and care to properly dispose of the material in question so that the space becomes safe again… just a little more than the humble face mask.
The Dangers Of Asbestos Have Been Highly Exaggerated
The news and media are well known for exaggerating the truth, and so it is easy to become skeptical when such sensationalised stories about asbestos exist. High profile lawsuits also contribute to some of the hysteria we see around this often hotly debated topic. It can be easy then for some to want to dismiss the dangers of asbestos completely.
The truth is, hundreds of studies dating back to the 1930’s have shown how asbestos leads to mesothelioma and other diseases. Almost all cases of mesothelioma can be attributed to asbestos exposure, and it’s been shown that even a single exposure to this nasty material can lead to disease and health effects.
Unlike the dramatic stories that the media espouse, the onset of disease from exposure to asbestos is subtle and insidious, with strong links to lung cancer, and making anyone who has come into contact with fibres at risk of developing long term effects.