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Construction in Your Unit: What You Should Know About Asbestos

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Asbestos is a word you may or may not have heard of before, but it is quite commonly used in the construction industry. Asbestos is a mineral that naturally occurs in the environment. It is used in many types of products because of its properties, which include being stronger than steel, resistant to heat and electricity, and non-flammable.

That being said, exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma - a type of cancer. Despite asbestos being a known carcinogen, as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is still not banned in approximately 70% of the planet. In fact, the WHO reports that more than 100,00 people die worldwide every year due to asbestos-related diseases.

How Asbestos Can Affect Your Health

From the beginning of the 20th Century, asbestos was commonly used in a variety of building materials. The danger of asbestos was made public in the 1970s — that it is a highly toxic substance that can cause lung cancer, lung scarring, and mesothelioma cancer if fibers are inhaled.

Although asbestos is no longer used in building materials in the United States, many of the nation’s older structures still contain the toxic substance. Most commonly, asbestos is found in ceiling insulation. However, the toxic substance may also be found in stove or pipe insulation, drywall joint patching compounds, furnaces and duct work, floor tiles, and roofing materials. Therefore, if your California home or unit is undergoing construction, there may be asbestos present in the residence.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to detect asbestos fibers with a general, visual inspection of a property. Indeed, California asbestos regulation law mandates that only licensed professionals with specialized equipment can detect and report a presence of asbestos within the property. Once asbestos is detected, these professionals will send a sample to a laboratory for further testing, which will include determining the type and concentration of asbestos and whether or not the building is a threat to public health.

Detecting Asbestos-Related Diseases

Individuals who suspect they have been exposed or know they have been exposed to asbestos fibers through their environment, at the workplace, or in their homes, should immediately contact a healthcare professional about exposure history and any symptoms.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of asbestos are latent, meaning they may not show up until several decades after being exposed to the toxin. If any of the symptoms below develop, it is critical to contact a physician immediately:

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Fatigue or anemia
  • Wheezing, hoarseness, shortness of breath
  • Tightening or pain in the chest area
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Blood in the sputum, which is coughed up from the lungs
  • Neck or face swelling

It is not uncommon for a healthcare provider to conduct a thorough examination, including a chest x-ray and lung function test. While chest x-rays cannot detect asbestos fibers in the lungs, it is the most common tool used because it can help identify any signs of lung disease. However, a lung biopsy, which is the most reliable test to confirm asbestos exposure, can detect the presence of microscopic asbestos fiber pieces.

If you, or someone you know, reside in California and believe you have been exposed to asbestos, contact our skilled attorneys at Haig B. Kazandjian Lawyers, APC for an initial case evaluation.

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