“No Safe Level” of Asbestos Exposure, Acting Surgeon General Says
Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak indicates that the risk of asbestos exposure has not disappeared with the ban on use of the substance several decades ago, noting that there is still a significant amount of asbestos in homes and workplaces that pose a serious risk to health.
In a statement issued last month during National Asbestos Week, Lushniak urged homeowners and workers to continue to be careful in places where asbestos may be present.
“While most individuals exposed to asbestos, whether in the home or workplace will not develop disease — there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure and precautions should be taken to protect your health,” he warned.
Asbestos is a toxic fiber that has been linked to a number of serious and life-threatening respiratory illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. While most use of asbestos in the United States was banned more than 30 years ago, new reports of illnesses continue to surface.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is often not diagnosed until several decades after exposure, resulting in a very short life-expectancy due to the advanced stage the disease is usually in.
“In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance an individual has of developing harmful health effects,” Secretary Lushniak said. “Asbestos fibers may be release into the air where they can be easily inhaled and contaminate the surrounding area during demolition work, building and home maintenance, repair, and remodeling.”
Mesothelioma litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos, in recent years there have been a growing number of mesothelioma lawsuits are brought following second hand exposure, with wives, children and other family members alleging they developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.
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