Tuesday, September 26, was recognized as national Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Aquicore is committed to helping its customers achieve museum quality indoor air, and in light of that commitment, we’re raising awareness about one of the most serious indoor air risks: asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used to insulate homes and buildings before the 1980s. In its most common form, asbestos is composed of strands of rigid fibers that form a web with remarkable insulation and fire resistance properties. Unfortunately, it also has a tendency to become airborne and find its way into the lungs, abdomen, and heart of those nearby. Its rigid fibers become lodged in sensitive tissue, causing scarring that can result in the cancer mesothelioma and asbestosis.
There are about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the U.S. every year, according to Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance statistics, and 2,500 deaths. Because of the 20 to 50 year delay in the onset of the disease, experts expect that these figures will spike in 2020. This also accounts for the relatively high average age of diagnosis.
The most important thing for commercial real estate operators to know is that enclosed, undamaged asbestos poses only minimal health risks and can be safely monitored and left in place. However, as a building ages, it’s easy for asbestos to become damaged or disturbed, causing it to become airborne. If this happens, it poses a major health risk for everyone in the building. For this reason, many owners and operators prefer to safely remove and replace asbestos before it poses a risk to their employees and tenants.
At the same time, there are a few situations in which asbestos is still legally installed and used in the U.S. There are regulations in place that strictly limit the use of asbestos, but there remain some situations in which asbestos is the best or safest product for the job.
If there is asbestos in your building and you suspect that it has been compromised, it is important that you deal with it immediately. Exposing tenants or workers to asbestos can incur significant legal liability for the organization years or even decades later, and the damage to a building’s reputation can be difficult or impossible to repair.