When it comes to home renovation and construction, builders and contractors need to be cognizant of the federal and state laws relating to the use of asbestos and house siding. These workers should also be careful, as older homes typically contain asbestos-based siding.
The Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) defines asbestos as “a mineral fiber [and] it can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers [and] in the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.” Additionally, the CPSC notes that in terms of asbestos, “some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement [and] houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.”
The health effects of asbestos exposure are well-documented. Over time, the inhalation of asbestos fibers can accumulate and lead to serious health problems including, “asbestosis, an inflammatory condition of lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe[,] mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen[, and] lung cancer and lung problems, including pleural plaque thickening of the membranes that surround the lungs, and pleural effusions abnormal collections of fluid between the lungs and the inside wall of the chest.”
The risk of asbestos exposure can and should not be understated. Based upon various “studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards,” we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of:
- Lung cancer
- Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity
- Asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue
The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of getting lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you have a history of smoking. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
A prospective home-buyer may purchase a home with roofing or siding that is composed of asbestos cement, so they should seek out the advice, guidance, and expertise of a home inspector or environmental home expert who can provide guidance regarding the presence, scope, and risk of asbestos. The failure to do so, could have long-term health consequences for everyone involved.
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If you or someone you know has suffered personal harm or medical issues as a result of asbestos exposure, you need attorneys with experience in personal injury matters. Colombo Law is highly experienced in such matters and can evaluate your potential legal claims on your behalf.