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Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos Exposure & Fire Safety There are certainly many concerns related to a fire emergency at home or at work: high heat, toxic smoke, and structural damage are just a few. The threat of asbestos exposure, however, is an additional concern that many people may not consider. In the United States, over 35 million residences harbor asbestos-containing materials that have the potential to release toxic fibers into the air if they are damaged by a fire. This is a serious heath risk for homeowners, firefighters and other first responders, as asbestos exposure is the only known cause of pleural mesothelioma, a fatal type of cancer that attacks the lungs and does not have a cure. A variety of structural materials contain asbestos, including insulation, plaster, stucco, drywall, and even duct tape. If these materials are damaged by the intense heat of a fire, they may release tiny asbestos fibers into the air, putting individuals at great risk for inhalation. If inhaled, asbestos fibers (which have a claw-like structure) may situate themselves in the pleural lining of the lungs for upwards of fifty years before an afflicted individual may begin to experience common mesothelioma symptoms. Individuals that may be exposed to asbestos during and after a fire should wear a mask that adequately covers the nose and mouth to prevent inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers. It is important to continue wearing a mask even after a fire has been extinguished, as cooling rubble and debris may continue to release asbestos fibers. Proper ventilation is also crucial, as it will prevent asbestos dust from settling on the floors and other structures. Any clothing or safety gear, including eyewear, gloves, outerwear or booties should be removed and disposed of or cleaned prior to leaving the scene of the fire to avoid transfer of asbestos fibers. It is also imperative to hire a professional to handle all asbestos removal and disposal needs, as they are best equipped to handle this toxic material. Mesothelioma is always fatal, but it is also preventable. Individuals who are diagnosed with mesothelioma will most likely surrender to this aggressive form of cancer in less than two years following their initial diagnosis. There is no cure, and the survival rate associated with this disease is less than 1%. The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center is the web�s foremost resource for information related to occupational asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, and mesothelioma treatment options. Please visit www.maacenter.org for additional information.
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