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Myths About Asbestos

With asbestos-related diseases occurring more frequently than ever, asbestos has been a popular topic of discussion lately. Unfortunately, there are still many misconceptions about the mineral. Awareness is an amazing, life-saving thing, but it’s important to be aware of the truth.

Below, we debunk three common myths about asbestos:

Myth # 1: Asbestos is banned in the United States.

As a known human carcinogen, you’d think asbestos would be banned in the United States. More than 50 countries outlaw the use of the fibers – but we aren’t one of them.

We do ban a few asbestos products: corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial/specialty paper and flooring felt. However, everything outside this range is still fair game. Companies may independently choose to use asbestos alternatives to protect their workers and avoid lawsuits, but it’s purely up to them.

Legislation did once seek to implement a nationwide ban on all asbestos products. However, asbestos lobbyists had the law reversed just a few short years later.

Myth # 2: Some types of asbestos are safe to use.

Reeling from negative scientific studies and lawsuits, asbestos companies began a “safe asbestos” campaign to salvage their industry. They admit that some types of asbestos cause cancer – but argue that chrysotile is safe to use.

Industry giants have even paid research teams to endorse this myth. Sponsored scientists have published scientific articles indicating that the body can safely get rid of chrysotile before it does any damage – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Almost all of the asbestos on the market is chrysotile. If chrysotile is safe to ingest, how have so many people developed asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma? Asbestos companies have no answer for this. Once diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, the life expectancy is only up to one year usually.

Myth # 3: You can handle asbestos hazards in your home by taking the products out of your house.

Health-conscious homeowners often hear about asbestos and take it upon themselves to “asbestos-proof” their home. Unfortunately, there are three flaws here:

  • Without laboratory testing, you can’t tell whether or not a product contains asbestos. Old, crumbling or deteriorating asbestos products may have visible fibers, but many other products may still have the asbestos hidden underneath their outer layer.
  • DIY asbestos removal is highly unsafe. Ripping, sawing or otherwise disturbing asbestos products can release even more of the fibers into the air. It’s crucial for a licensed, bonded abatement company to handle renovations after a professional inspection reveals which products need attention.
  • Some asbestos products are better left alone. Again, an inspection is necessary to determine this – but in some cases, asbestos products pose the lowest exposure risk when they’re left in place but covered with secure materials. Yanking them out isn’t always the best approach.

 

If you’re not sure about something, it’s always smart to err on the side of caution. The only way to prevent asbestos-related diseases is to avoid exposure; a bit of caution now can save lots of trouble later. If you have any questions about asbestos safety or have heard any myths you’d like us to clear up, let us know at The Mesothelioma Center. 

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Faith Franz is a researcher and writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She advocates for alternative medicine and encourages patients to explore all of their treatment options. 

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