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Is a One-Time Exposure to Asbestos Dangerous?

Pollution Face mask city urban exposure

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is unfortunately dangerous to humans. It’s been long known for the carcinogenic properties it possesses. For decades, health professionals have realized that too much asbestos exposure can develop into serious medical conditions like terminal cancer. So a ban has been in place on most materials manufactured with asbestos since the 1970s.

If you think you may have one time been exposed to asbestos, don’t panic. The probability of acquiring a life-threatening condition due to just one exposure is very low. But if that one event was extreme, for example when the world trade buildings were attacked and destroyed, converting those buildings into hundreds of tons of toxic dust that settled over all of lower Manhattan for over three months, then the risk is much higher.

How Asbestos Enters the Body

Asbestos fibers are usually not visible as they float through the air. They’re kicked up during demolition work on old buildings, as those structures contain many building materials that were manufactured with asbestos included. Those materials include drywall, insulation, roofing materials, etc. Although a one-time exposure may not affect you, many people work in industries where they are constantly exposed to asbestos, such as firefighting, demolition, shipbuilding, and auto repair. Although asbestos is now banned, it still exists in aged materials.

Asbestos harms you when its tiny fibers lodge in the lining of your lungs and other organs. It enters the body most commonly by inhalation. But without wearing the proper protective equipment, asbestos fibers could get on your skin. Fortunately, very few if any of these fibers pass through the skin into your body. Asbestos workers of old sometimes acquired “asbestos warts” on their hands, but this is a non-threatening condition. There are not any serious health effects related to skin exposure to asbestos.

Can You Get Sick After Being Exposed to Asbestos Only Once?

It’s possible to develop mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other health risks if the asbestos exposure was severe enough. In the 9/11 attack cited earlier, it’s well known that first responders and survivors breathed in enough of the asbestos-containing toxic dust in this one event to have later developed many serious health problems.

But usually, being exposed to asbestos only one time will not be long enough to allow you to inhale enough toxins to cause any future health issues. It takes millions of asbestos fibers to collect inside one’s lungs to cause severe damage before diseases take over. So it’s those who worked around asbestos and asbestos-containing materials in the past that have the highest risk of health problems.

Signs of Asbestos-Related Illnesses

Asbestos is tricky because, whether one was exposed only during one catastrophic event or daily for years, victims won’t know that they have a health problem until years after the disease has already taken over. It may take decades before they notice that something is amiss. Symptoms of asbestos exposure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest or abdomen pain
  • Fatigue and/or weakness
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Dry cough

If you notice any of these potential asbestos-related symptoms, see a doctor right away.

Let the Pros Handle It

Through redecorating efforts, building additions, or just replacing floors, you could expose yourself to asbestos. Although the odds are low that you’ll get sick from doing those jobs, why risk it? Before you start any demolition or rebuilding in the Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the central Colorado area, let the asbestos abatement experts at Cyclone Kleen Up test your home or business first. If asbestos is found, they have the protective equipment, the experience, and the tools to remove it safely and clean up the site afterward. Your health is too important to put it at risk.