Musings and Mutterings

Asbestos – What is it Good For?

Asbestos Danger SignAbsolutely nothing! Well, that really should be the answer now that so much is know about the dangers that accompany this naturally occurring mineral fiber. I was recently approached about spreading awareness about Asbestos and Mesothelioma (The first week of April is Asbestos Awareness Week) and while I was a bit aware of both, I was truly amazed at just how much there is to know!

Asbestos, A Short History:

Asbestos usage dates back as far as the stone age and it’s been discovered in a variety of uses from embalming cloths, pottery, wicks, and even table cloths and napkins. However, even in these earlier times the dangers of those who worked in the mines gathering the fibrous minerals was noted with by the “disease of the slaves” (Pliny the Elder, Roman historian) and a “sickness of the lungs” (Strabo, Greek geographer). Despite these somewhat hazardous beginnings, asbestos continued to be mined and utilized for it’s amazing fire-proof qualities, though in a more novelty fashion. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that asbestos manufacturing became a flourishing industry and that’s when the true health impacts began to be felt. Asbestos seemed like a wonder material with it’s resistance to chemicals, water and electricity, and  it’s malleable properties and it was utilized to the max, in insulation, biding material, cement, roofing, flooring, fire-retardant coatings, and more. Health hazards were noted, warnings were given, but the Industrial demand overrode the human health cost and by the mid-19oo’s (with a slight dip in production during the Depression) asbestos was an seemingly unstoppable giant. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the public began to be made aware of the correlation between asbestos exposure and debilitating lung diseases, like mesothelioma.

Asbestos-factsAnd Today?

Even today, knowledge about mesothelioma and asbestos is not as widely known as it should be, since almost all buildings built before the 1980’s have some form or other of asbestos present in them. Asbestos products were used quite extensively through the US in the 20th century in a wide variety of applications. Military veterans, electricians, plumbers, boilermakers, carpenters, mechanics, machinists, and do-it-yourself home restorers, are just some of those at risk for asbestos exposure (not to mention those around them who could be exposed to secondhand exposure through their cloths, shoes, etc), and in turn at risk for mesothelioma.

AsbestosAwarenessWeekCrop via Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceView various statistics here!

What Can Be Done?

At this point mesothelioma is still a somewhat rare cancer, at least in the US, however, it still exists, and therefore is a problem that we should make ourselves aware of. By making the hazards of asbestos known, we can create a safer environment for ourselves, our loved ones, and insure that the best safety precautions are taken when asbestos is being dealt with. Mesothelioma, if brought to the attention of more people, could be diagnosed earlier, and perhaps a cure could be found. Knowledge is power and for a more in-depth look at mesothelioma, asbestos, and what can be done please check out Mesothelioma.com and the incredibly informative the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog. You can also support a loved one and find out more about mesothelioma treatment here – Support a Loved One.

I hope that you found this informative and a bit eye-opening. If you, or anyone you know, has been affected by Asbestos or Mesothelioma know that you are not alone and that the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is a great place for support!

Namaste ~ Ella

*Sites used for reference ~ Mesothelioma.com

*Info-graphics via Mesothelioma.com

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