We have all heard idioms like “Home is where the heart is” and “There’s no place like home.” While these phrases have variations, and the early origins of such sayings are often lost to the passage of time, their meanings still carry weight today. People are generally the most relaxed and comfortable when they are in their own homes. In fact, people often invest significant amounts of time and money into making their homes a real refuge.
Unfortunately, there are times when home ownership can be quite challenging. Anyone who has owned a home for a reasonable period likely appreciates the need for constant maintenance, and occasionally for major repairs or improvements. The presence of many issues is obvious – such as a leaking roof or sagging deck. Other issues may be more challenging to discover, such as termites or problems in a foundation. But what about asbestos – is that a hidden danger of which homeowners must be concerned? We’ll discuss that issue in this blog.
Why Do We Worry about Asbestos?
Asbestos was once used much more widely than it is today. The name “asbestos” is used for any of six related minerals. It is inexpensive and has many properties that make it useful in many industrial and commercial applications. Unfortunately, over time, it has been determined that asbestos is harmful to humans.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have all classified asbestos as a human carcinogen.
How Does Asbestos Harm People?
You might wonder how asbestos exposure is harmful. After all, we do not usually think of minerals as dangerous objects. The problem occurs when asbestos is “disturbed,” and tiny fibers of the substance are released into the air. Once airborne, these fibers can be inhaled. Over time, many of these fibers can get trapped in the lungs for a long time. Examples of disturbing asbestos would be sawing, sanding, and cutting things that contain asbestos.
The inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to disease and illness. One disease commonly associated with asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, which is a form of cancer affecting membranes lining the stomach and chest. Asbestos exposure may also increase the risk of asbestosis and certain other forms of cancer, such as stomach cancer.
How Long Can It Take for Illness to Develop from Asbestos Exposure?
In some instances, it takes decades before the disease and its symptoms develop. Therefore, even people who retired years ago are still at risk of developing illness if they were exposed to asbestos at work. Sadly, many employers knowingly hid the dangers of asbestos from their employees.
Can Asbestos Be in Residential Homes?
The short answer is “yes.” However, this is usually a problem for homes built before the 1980s. At that time, asbestos was used in many products standard in residential home construction. Examples include insulation, floor tiles, pipe insulation, and drywall, to name a few. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), asbestos might be located in floors, ceilings, walls, siding, roofs, and other areas. That is a pervasive list.
DEQ also states that there is not much danger if the asbestos is not disturbed. Renovation projects, repairs, demolition, and any other activities that will disturb asbestos could pose a threat. DEQ recommends that homeowners hire a licensed asbestos abatement professional.
Call with Questions
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions, you likely have questions about your rights. The experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield would happily answer all your questions in a free consultation. We have helped many Oregonians navigate this type of personal injury case. Please call us.