Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in thousands of products throughout the 20th century for its heat and fire-resistant characteristics. The toxic mineral was most commonly used for insulation purposes in residential and commercial buildings. A rare cancer for which there is no cure, pleural mesothelioma, is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure.

Exposure to asbestos can occur by inhaling or ingesting microscopic asbestos fibers. When asbestos-containing materials become damaged or disturbed, the fibers that make up asbestos can become airborne where they can be inhaled. While there are no immediate side effects after being exposed, symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can arise between 20 and 50 years after exposure. The average life expectancy for patients ranges between four and 18 months once diagnosed.

Knowing where to find and how to spot asbestos products is essential for avoiding this toxic substance and the development of mesothelioma. The construction industry found many uses for asbestos as it was added to materials such as floor and ceiling tiles, adhesives, cements, siding, roofing, pipeline wrap and shingles.

Since some asbestos products are readily broken into tiny particles when disturbed, handling this material can lead to asbestos fibers being released into the air. For this reason, it is best not to handle asbestos materials at all because the risk of exposure is high without professional equipment and protection.

If asbestos is in your home, all testing, inspection and abatement of asbestos should be done by a licensed professional. Spotting asbestos products that are not clearly labeled can be nearly impossible with the human eye, so testing is the only way to know if a product contains asbestos. As a result, it is important to hire a professional to take a sample for testing and perform any necessary remediation.

For additional information on mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases please visit: