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You lay tile for a living. The work you do adds lasting beauty to a home, office or other structure.
But your work involves a potentially serious risk to your health. The risk comes from being exposed on the job to asbestos.
Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma. As a tile setter, your risk of getting mesothelioma is moderate to high.
You could have been exposed to asbestos in many different ways. The most likely was from contact with the products and materials of your trade. These include:
It used to be that asbestos was put into these products. That happened long before you were born — unless you were born after the 1980s, because that’s when companies more or less stopped doing it.
But not only was asbestos added to tiles and tile-setting products, it was added to drywall, roof shingles, paints, electrical boxes, water heaters, furnaces and pipes.
Asbestos was added to all these various products and materials to give them heat protection. It would make them fire-safe, improve their durability, and even help them look better.
The same holds true if you enter to conduct salvage operations in advance of a planned demolition.
Some good news: Asbestos doesn’t endanger you until you do something physical to the product or material it’s contained within.
This can mean applying a chisel and hammer to a row of pre-1980s ceramic squares in order to remove them. It can also mean cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing.
Such actions cause asbestos fibers inside the material to be released into the air. Asbestos in the air is dangerous because of the potential for it to end up inside your lungs or intestines.
Asbestos fibers are tiny, so they can penetrate deep into your body in the event you breathe them in or swallow them.
Asbestos inside you doesn’t normally cause immediate harm. The harm takes decades to crop up. When at last it does, the harm strikes you fast and hard in the form of mesothelioma.
The collective bargaining organization that fights for you where asbestos is concerned is the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.
The IUBAC has much to say about the dangers of asbestos. To get out the word about the toxic mineral, the union has established a very good asbestos education program. Contact the union to learn more and find out how you can participate.
The union can also answer many of your questions about fighting mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is not something to take lightly.
It’s a terrible form of cancer. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.
So start now to find out all that you can about it.