- Diagnosis & Prognosis
- Support & Community
You apply or lay insulation for a living. Your work with insulating materials exposes you to asbestos.
As a result, you have a high risk of developing mesothelioma at some point during your life. Materials that may contain the asbestos necessary to afflict you with this terrible cancer include:
If you work with insulation materials manufactured after the 1990s, you probably have little risk of asbestos exposure. For you the real danger comes from working with or near insulation materials in older structures.
Inhaled asbestos is what causes problems. So does asbestos that you swallow. You probably wouldn’t be able to do either if it weren’t for asbestos being in the air around you.
Asbestos is not supposed to be in the air. But it often is because of the activities that go on at construction sites — renovations, remodels and expansions in particular.
Today, the insulation you apply or lay contains substitutes for the asbestos that once were commonly used. However, any insulation you remove from a building erected prior to the 1990s probably contains asbestos.
So you must exercise great care when you remove old insulation.
Removal means having to tear up, cut apart, grind away, scrape off and more — all likely to cause any asbestos contained within the material to be disturbed.
When you disturb asbestos, you are allowing very tiny bits and pieces of it to break away and float up into the air. Once in the air, asbestos has a tendency to stay there for days or weeks.
The longer it remains in the air, the more likely you are to breathe or swallow some of it. Inside your body, the asbestos particles begin a long, slow process of turning your healthy cells into mesothelioma.
If you inhale it, the asbestos will affect the lining of your lungs. If you swallow it, the asbestos will affect the lining of your abdomen. Sometimes, breathing or swallowing asbestos also affects the lining of the heart.
The impact of asbestos is a matter of substantial concern to trade unions. Their members are endangered by the mineral and so they see it as a duty to help keep these men and women safe.
One union that has been active on the asbestos battlefront is the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. This union takes great pride in its role in bringing industry and government alike to acknowledge that asbestos poses a serious threat to human health.
For example, the union offered up recommendations to establish, enact and enforce regulations to minimize asbestos exposure. These suggestions were widely adopted and remain in place today.
The IAHFIAW also offers an array of asbestos safety training programs. One of them is geared to preparing insulators to receive certification as asbestos-abatement specialists.
The union also serves as a gateway to great health plans that can provide you with timely exams to warn you if mesothelioma has started.
Such exams can be vital to extending your life. The reason is that mesothelioma caught early enough can be kept at bay a very long time.