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Asbestos: How did I get exposed?

You find out that you have mesothelioma. Your doctor tells you that the most likely cause is exposure to asbestos. You probably inhaled the particles repeatedly over a long period of time. Those microscopic particles are nearly indestructible, and they wreak havoc on the human body once they get inside. The end result, for many, is mesothelioma.

You understand the science behind the disease and how it links back to asbestos. You understand the treatment options your doctor outlines for you. What you do not understand is how you got exposed to asbestos in the first place. What happened?

Asbestos in the workplace

One potential exposure site, for many people, is the workplace. If you spent the last 40 years working in a dangerous location where you got exposed on a daily basis, whether you knew it or not, it can have dramatic ramifications.

One industry where asbestos used to see common use was in shipbuilding. Many people who worked on construction or repair projects got exposed in shipyards all over the United States. Sailors and other workers on ships also saw potential exposure.

That risk did not simply end when asbestos was outlawed due to the risks. In many cases, workers doing repairs later on or even working to remove asbestos from older ships then got exposed to it all over again. The same is true when removing asbestos from factories, warehouses, schools and many other such locations.

Common building materials

Of course, you do not only find asbestos in the workplace. It was also used in many building materials over the years. Any building with these materials could then pose a risk.

For instance, asbestos was a great insulator, so it often saw use in pipe insulation. Older pipes could still pose a risk. Renovating an old building could put you in danger. In some cases, other types of residential and commercial insulation also contained asbestos.

It's not just insulation. Old floor tiles also used asbestos, for instance. If you decide to tear out the tiles in your bathroom while doing some home updates, do you know what you're really dealing with? Outdated building materials may still put you in danger the same way that old lead paint poses serious health problems, even though modern paint has not contained lead for decades.

Your options

As you can see, exposure may come from more sources than you first assumed. People considered asbestos a very safe and useful building material before discovering the risks, so it saw widespread use. No matter how you got exposed to it, make sure you know what options you have now that you need to deal with mesothelioma and complicated medical treatment plans.

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