A few generations ago, asbestos was viewed as the perfect material. It was used in construction and in clothing, car parts, and plumbing systems. It’s strong and resists heat and chemicals. Unfortunately, the fibers can be easily inhaled, which can cause the fatal cancer mesothelioma.
This is why several countries have taken steps to ban the product, some completely. While the U.S. began placing bans on certain asbestos products as far back as the 1970s to protect human health, some forms of asbestos are still permitted. A full ban was rejected in 1991, although some products still face restrictions.
Despite any degree of ban, there are still a variety of ways that Americans are exposed to asbestos, thereby putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma. Here are five common sources of asbestos exposure.
1. Imported Products
A variety of imported products have been found to carry some degree of asbestos in them, including makeup, toys, and even crayons. An August 2018 report by the United States Public Interest Research Group showed that some green crayons in packs made by Playskool—available from retailers like Dollar Tree, Amazon, and eBay—contained asbestos. In their report, they demanded that Playskool act.
“Dollar Tree and Playskool should recall the asbestos-tainted crayons and remove them from store shelves,” PIRG wrote in the report. “They should also contact customers to warn them about the crayons.” The report came three years after the Environmental Working Group also found asbestos in crayons, citing talc sometimes used in the manufacturing process as the possible cause of the asbestos.
2. Talcum Powder
Talc is a natural soft mineral that may have some connections to cancers when inhaled. Some talc naturally contains asbestos, because they’re often mined in the same place. While most talc-based products aren’t supposed to include asbestos, they may contain other hazardous chemicals that can affect the body, especially with extended use.
Talc users have sued Johnson & Johnson over cancer they’ve allegedly developed from longtime use of talc powder products. In one trial in California earlier this year, a jury awarded $25 million to a woman who said J&J talc gave her mesothelioma. In July, a Missouri jury awarded 22 women $4.6 billion in connection to their claims that talc had asbestos that gave them ovarian cancer.
3. Old Buildings
Asbestos was ubiquitous in insulation and other building materials in the mid-20th century, and many are still standing, including homes and schools. At the time, asbestos was used because of its malleability and its effectiveness as a flame retardant. The side effects of asbestos exposure weren’t as widely well-known as they are now, whether that was intentional or not.
Teachers are particularly susceptible to asbestos exposure.
There’s the possibility of occupants breathing in “legacy asbestos” in dust as the building gradually deteriorates. Teachers are particularly susceptible to asbestos exposure, possibly from spending long periods in older schools, according to the Environmental Working Group. Old buildings not in use, such as locations that are abandoned, condemned, or poorly maintained, can harbor higher levels of dust due to decaying walls, tiles, and insulation.
When buildings are taken down deliberately or damaged, they can potentially release all sorts of toxins, including asbestos insulation and other materials. This was seen following the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the collapse of several buildings in downtown NYC spread dangerous items through the region—and into the lungs of citizens. In more routine scenarios, demo crews are supposed to follow regulations to mitigate exposure to asbestos, but that doesn’t always happen.
Hurricanes and wildfires can also risk spreading asbestos in the air. In Montana, there are even specialized firefighters who have experience tackling blazes alight in asbestos-addled areas.
5. Auto Parts
The ability of asbestos to be durable and heat-resistant still makes it a useful component in car parts. In some cases, items such as disk brake pads, drum brake lining, brake blocks and transmission machinery may improve an auto’s performance. Precautions may still be required to safely install, maintain, or replace these components.
Did Asbestos Exposure Give You or a Loved One Mesothelioma?
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Contact our attorneys for a free, no-risk case evaluation to find out if you could be owed money for asbestos exposure. Asbestos funds have awarded almost $20 billion to mesothelioma patients.