When it comes to asbestos, most people think of old houses and factories. However, asbestos can be found in many public buildings, including schools, hospitals, government buildings, and more. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used extensively in construction materials in the past due to its heat resistance and durability. However, when asbestos fibers are released into the air, they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. In this article, we will discuss the risks of asbestos in public buildings and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in the construction industry from the 1940s to the 1970s. It was used in a variety of building materials, including insulation, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and roofing materials. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and can be released into the air when these materials are disturbed or damaged. When these fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and cause serious health problems.
Risks of Asbestos in Public Buildings
Asbestos can be found in many public buildings, including schools, hospitals, government buildings, and more. If these buildings were constructed before the 1980s, there is a chance that they contain asbestos. Even if the building has been renovated or remodeled, there is still a risk that asbestos-containing materials were left in place.
When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed, the fibers can be released into the air. People who work or spend time in these buildings can inhale these fibers and develop health problems. The risk of developing an asbestos-related disease depends on the amount and duration of exposure to asbestos fibers. However, even short-term exposure can be dangerous.
Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
The symptoms of asbestos exposure can take years or even decades to appear. Asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses. Some common symptoms of asbestos exposure include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If you have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Protecting Yourself from Asbestos
If you work in a public building that may contain asbestos, it is important to take steps to protect yourself. Here are some things you can do:
- Find out if your building contains asbestos. If your building was constructed before the 1980s, there is a chance that it contains asbestos. Contact your building manager or local health department to find out if there has been an asbestos inspection and what the results were.
- Avoid disturbing asbestos-containing materials. If you suspect that there may be asbestos-containing materials in your building, do not disturb them. Do not drill, sand, or saw materials that may contain asbestos. If you must work with these materials, take proper precautions, such as wearing a respirator and using wet methods to keep the fibers from becoming airborne.
- Follow proper procedures for asbestos removal. If asbestos-containing materials need to be removed from your building, it is important to follow proper procedures. Asbestos removal should only be done by a licensed professional who has the proper equipment and training to do the job safely.
- Practice good hygiene. If you work in a building that may contain asbestos, it is important to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands and face frequently, and change your clothes before leaving work to avoid bringing asbestos fibers home with you.