Guest post by Faith Franz from The Mesothelioma Center:
You read Total Mommy Fitness because you’re interested in keeping yourself and your family healthy and happy. You plan nutritious meals and make time for the gym – but are you overlooking one small, but serious, issue?
Many families currently live in asbestos-contaminated residences. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 30 million U.S. homes contain asbestos in the attic alone. Asbestos can be present in any building constructed before the 1980s. It is most common in insulation, walls, tiles and other building materials like roofing, paint and glue.
Asbestos poses no health risks to you or your family as long as the fibers are sealed within the product (some products – like asbestos cement – are well-sealed, while others – like loose-fill attic insulation – readily release asbestos fibers). However, home improvement projects can disturb asbestos materials. Asbestos products can also degrade naturally over time, releasing fibers as time passes. Once asbestos is in the air in a home, any resident can unknowingly inhale the microscopic fibers.
Unfortunately, the risks do not stop there. Even in recent years, a handful of children’s toys have been found to contain asbestos. In 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found asbestos in three brands of crayons, and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization identified asbestos in CSI toy kits in 2007. These incidents are rare, but the consequences of asbestos exposure are still serious.
Ways You Can Protect Your Family from Asbestos
Thankfully, general caution and awareness can help you protect your family from these threats.
Ready to be proactive? Here’s what you can do:
- Schedule an asbestos inspection with a licensed abatement company. This will inform you which – if any – products in your home contain the fibers. Inspectors will also tell you the safest way to address any current asbestos hazards.
- Avoid disturbing any contaminated materials. Do not remove, replace or handle any products that may contain asbestos. Tell other household members which materials to avoid at all costs, and keep small children from playing with or near the items.
- Keep your eye on consumer reports. It is very rare for reports to find asbestos in modern toys or household products. However, in the event of a contamination issue, it is important to know as soon as possible so that you can get the product out of your house.
- If exposure occurs, tell your family doctor and pediatrician. Asbestos-related diseases generally develop 20 to 50 years after the exposure. However, your doctor (and your children’s pediatrician) needs to know immediately so they can note the exposure in your records and keep an eye out for future health issues.
- Continue focusing on a healthy diet. Some studies have shown that individuals with a healthy, plant-strong diet have a lower risk of developing asbestos cancer. Continue serving your family fruit and vegetable-based meals for extra protection against illness!
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.