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You work at construction sites as a laborer. You do a little of everything, which means you get exposed to a lot of one thing — asbestos.
As a result, your risk of developing mesothelioma is probably high.
Especially if the job sites where you help out are the scene of remodeling, renovating, expanding, or demolishing structures put up prior to the 1990s.
The reason is that older existing buildings routinely were constructed with materials that contained asbestos. These materials included:
As a laborer, you handle these materials and many more. But that’s not the only way you become exposed to asbestos.
Your presence at a job site exposes you to asbestos put into the air by the activities of the trades at work all around you. For example, the drywallers ask you to cart off a dozen sheets of old gypsum they just finished pulling down from a couple of rooms slated for remodeling.
Their act of pulling down those sheets causes asbestos to be released into the air. Then, as you toss the removed pieces into your wheelbarrow, you’re further exposed to asbestos.
Meanwhile, the construction materials that still contain asbestos won’t hurt you if left alone.
But if you disturb those materials in any way, the asbestos inside can come loose. You can’t see the individual asbestos particles that escape because they’re so tiny.
And because they’re so small, they waft in the air. They can stay in the air a very long time.
If you inhale any of it, the asbestos penetrates way down into your lungs. Once it gets there, it’s there for good. It’s not going to leave or be dissolved or otherwise vanish.
After many years, the asbestos stuck inside your lungs can change the cells of the tissues that line your lungs and make them cancerous.
But while it takes a long time to accomplish this, it doesn’t take much time at all for the cancer to grow and spread.
Typically, an untreated mesothelioma patient survives for only about six months after the cancer starts.
The danger of asbestos exposure is a matter that troubles leaders of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. This important union of more than 625,000 construction laborers, served by more than 500 locals in the U.S. and Canada, has implemented programs to train its members to be able to suppress asbestos risks.
These programs teach members how to carry out asbestos abatement, sample and monitor job site air quality, and properly prepare a work area with asbestos safety in mind.
Contact the union for details of how to participate in these training courses.
Also, make arrangements as soon as possible to visit a doctor who understands mesothelioma. Get a checkup for the disease. The earlier you catch it, the better your chances of survival.