Many people have heard of mesothelioma, a form of cancer that results from exposure to asbestos. It develops after a person breathes asbestos fibers into the lungs. The illness is almost always fatal, although survival rates have increased in recent years.
What Is Asbestos? Where Would I Encounter It?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used extensively in the 1900s in the construction industry and elsewhere because it is highly heat-resistant, strong, and a great insulator. It can be found in paint, coatings, gaskets, cement, insulation, drywall coatings, flooring and roofing materials.
These construction-related materials no longer contain asbestos because of the obvious consequences of exposure among workers and others. But working on older buildings could expose workers to the deadly substance, potentially leading them to a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Often-Surprising Sources of Asbestos
People are often surprised to hear that everyday consumer items once contained asbestos. Using them could cause mesothelioma as well as asbestosis, another illness related to exposure to the mineral fibers.
Here are five consumer items that could contain asbestos:
- Bowling balls used to be made of fiberglass and asbestos. Drilling into the balls exposed pro-shop workers to the substance. Bowlers at the local lanes were probably unaware that they were being exposed to the deadly mineral. Moreover, when the balls went into public use, bowlers could get residual asbestos dust on their fingers and release it into the atmosphere of the bowling alley. Although most bowling balls today do not contain asbestos, many older balls are still around.
- Talcum powder is made of talc. It is also used in cosmetics, chalk and ceramics. So why is there a concern about asbestos? It turns out that talc is often in the same mineral formations as asbestos. It could be present in small amounts in those products. When these products become airborne, users could inhale small quantities of asbestos. For example, many people around the world douse themselves in a cloud of talcum powder every day. Teachers who used chalk and blackboards (and students assigned to erase them) could be covered in chalk dust at the end of the school day. Researchers have linked this type of exposure to mesothelioma, lung and ovarian cancers.
- Crayons are in every child’s backpack. Unfortunately, they may contain asbestos. Recent studies have found that four of 28 boxes of crayons tested had asbestos. Researchers also found asbestos in some toy fingerprint kits. Several retailers removed these products from the shelves, but not before many thousands of parents purchased them for their children.
- The bindings of older books, such as those sold in second-hand bookstores and flea markets, could have asbestos in them. Evidence points to exposure among bookbinders in the 19th century. In addition, the binding of one famous science fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451, contained 100 percent asbestos, reportedly so that opponents of the controversial book couldn’t burn it.
- Modeling clay is like crayons, in that there are generally no airborne fibers in it. However, children put crayons and clay in their mouths, potentially causing them to ingest asbestos. Researchers recently found that some brands of modeling clay contained asbestos.
Get Help If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
Even though laws have reduced the risk of asbestos exposure, it is still found in places where you would not expect it. Moreover, because it takes many years or decades for mesothelioma to develop, people who once worked with asbestosis-containing materials, or who played with contaminated toys as children, may develop mesothelioma.
If you were unexpectedly diagnosed with mesothelioma, or a loved one died from the disease, learn about your legal rights. Talk to a Texas attorney who knows the issues surrounding this deadly disease.