So I was exposed to asbestos

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by glocke12, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    I work for a medium to large company here in the U.S. that many, if not most here would recognize by name. Just last week a building that I spent 5 years working in was closed because of asbestos contamination in the air ducts.

    It was supposed to be closed from last weds (12/1) to 12/6, but apparently they found more contamination and it now looks like the building will be closed until the end of the year (at least).

    I don't know any details regarding how much asbestos was found, but Im assuming that since the building was scheduled to reopen on the 6th and now wont be opening until the end of the month that it is not an insignificant amount.

    The company is not being very forthcoming about it, they have made no effort to contact either current employees that used to work in the building, or to contact former employees who used to work in the building. As a current employee who used to work in the building I only found out about it through the grapevine.

    Any suggestions on what to do about this, if anything?
  2. macrumors 603


    Jul 11, 2006
    There's not much you can do about it, if you get sick because of it the company probably would be responsible. But I think most of the health problems are more common among construction workers that are working directly with asbestos than people in buildings that use it. Most older buildings still have some asbestos in them, and nothing much is done about it unless you are doing a remodeling when you have to safely remove and replace it.
  3. macrumors 6502


    Apr 15, 2010
    There's no hazard with asbestos as long as you don't inhale it. As long as the fibers (dust) don't get airborne everything is safe. And even then, getting lungcancer also depends on the quality of your lungs, and how much exposure you had.

    People who get lungcancer due to asbestos have been exposed for years inhaling asbestos dust. (Dust due to grinding or breaking or cutting into asbestos) Asbestos is pretty safe as long as it is not damaged or cut when you are arround.

    But if you want to be sure, some siple tests in a hospital can get you some info.
  4. macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location
    If you breathe in asbestos fibres, then there's a risk of developing mesothelioma, which is a disease of the lung lining, and isn't like a typical lung tumour whatsoever. Mesothelioma is hard to treat, but I don't know if you need to worry about it. It's bad that asbestos was found in your air duct, since some of it may have gotten into the air. However, I don't know how much of it there is in your workplace.

    And FYI: Stay away from carbon nanotubes as well (which is quite easy right now). I don't think there's a conclusive link between carbon nanotubes and mesothelioma, but there's a rather strong possibility that the long nanotube fibers have the same effect.
  5. macrumors newbie


    Jan 16, 2011
    I would write down all of the details that you do have just in case you get sick in future years. Did you see the name of the company that was performing the asbestos removal? If so, write down that name as well. I would be interested in finding out exactly what asbestos mineral they found since some cause more problems than others. If you get sick, you will have notes to refer back to since most symptoms do not develop for at least 15 years. Take all your notes and lock them away in a safe deposit box or somewhere that you'll forget about it. No sense worrying about it for now.

    As far as what you can do for yourself... take care of yourself to keep your immune system strong. If you smoke, quit... because smoking increases the risk of developing asbestos cancer IF you were exposed.
  6. macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    This will not be the first building you've been in regularly that has asbestos, and it probably won't even be the last. As long as the asbestos sheets were not broken whilst you were nearby you ought to be fine.
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    I forgot I posted this on here.

    Before Christmas I was given some new, verified information by the company. All of the rooms I worked in had surface contamination (desks, lab benches, floors, etc).

    All of the air sampling came back negative, but than again the air sampling was performed only after the ventilation system was turned off. The surface contamination seems significant, at least to me. The figures I was given were 42,200 Structures/Sq. cm to 65,000 structures/Sq. cm. The fact that it is on the surface indicates that at one time it was airborne.

    I still don't know exactly what the source was, but it sounds as if a maintenance worker left a roll (or block or piece) of asbestos in a ventilation duct.
  8. macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I'm pretty sure air sampling wouldn't be done with air ducts on. Have you been checked out?
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    Not yet. They gave me an Rx to get a chest xray done by a "B3" reader, and I still need to make an appt. with my primary care doctor to at least get this documented and in my medical history.
  10. macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    You need to see someone who handles asbestos. Five years is enough for many negative health effects. Asbestos related health problems comes from long-term, low-level exposure and rarely from short-term high-level exposure. Both the time you were in the facility and the exposure type put you at very high risk.

    Different types of minerals can cause different types of health effects and asbestos is now thought to have many negative health effects on the human body. Amosite, IIRC, is by far the most dangerous due to its continuation in human lungs after exposure and compilation effect. All types of asbestos, however, do have negative health outcomes on both humans and animal test subjects.

    Asbestos toxicity has been known for over a century and most companies had sufficient evidence to see that they were literally killing their own employees. You need a medical team which does asbestos and possibly an attorney who also does asbestos cases. Depending on the extent of the damage, there are also mental health professionals who work with victims of asbestos-related health damage.
  11. macrumors 603


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    People would be horrified if they knew how much asbestos was still in use - and perfectly safe.

    Asbestos tiles, pipe insulation, duct insulation, etc. are safe to be around as long as the fibers aren't disturbed (think of someone with a saw cutting through it). The fibers/dust particles have to become airborne in order to be harmful.

    As much time as I've spent in and around old mechanical rooms in buildings, I've seen PLENTY of asbestos. Just don't disturb it and you should be fine.
  12. macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    Old York
    I was exposed to some as a kid, never even told anyone about it. I "exploring" into the attic of my school and found some blue asbestos. I didn't twig what it was at the time, I just thought it was just insulation though a couple of months later that whole part of the school was shut down for it to be removed.

    7 years later and I'm fine. Hopefully you will be too.
  13. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 21, 2008
    United Kingdom
    Sorry to hear.
    My Grandfather died from Asbestos poisoning, the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a formerly rare cancer strongly associated with exposure to amphibole asbestos), and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis).
    Long exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibers is more likely to cause health problems, as asbestos exists in the ambient air at low levels, which itself does not cause health problems.
    The European Union has banned all use of asbestos and extraction, manufacture and processing of asbestos products.
    It's almost like fine fibre's of glass that sits on your lungs.

    Maybe it's time to read this thread:
  14. macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location
    Sounds pretty bad that a significant amount of asbestos was in the air and settled on tabletops.

    The only thing you can do is get as much on record, both from your boss/company and the asbestos removal company, and see a doctor who specialises in treating mesothelioma and asbestosis.
  15. macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2004
    It seems strange that they would not sample the air while the ventilation system was turned on. Do people not work in the area when the ventilation system is on? What is the point in testing if you do not test real work conditions? :confused:

    Also, why would a maintenance person be handling asbestos? OSHA requires trained people to deal with asbestos. Sounds like the company is not following OSHA regs... which are BIG problems for them (and not fair to you)... frankly you can give OSHA a call, you have the right to a safe work place.

    From what I have gathered, you work in what would be considered the construction industry. Different regs for construction work.

    Also a good reference:
  16. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Check with your local civic health authority. There may have been a requirement that the company report the contamination to them. If they have reported it, then the report may be available for you to read. Even if you have to file an access to information request.

    My suggestion is don't freak out... you don't know what kind of impact this will have on you, but assume it could be bad. So get proper professional advice. Much as love 'em, MR posters don't count.

    It might be worthwhile hiring a private detective. Have them chat up one of the asbestos clean up workers in a bar. A couple of day's work by the PI would make it clear if this was a huge contamination that somebody is trying to cover up, or one of the many many harmless (because there was not enough dust released) asbestos exposures that occur every year.
  17. macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2011
    Asbestos are used because of its unique feature of heatand fire resistence. The major drawback in using asbestos is breathing in tiny fibers in which it is composed of.
  18. Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Asbestos is safe provided its undisturbed. Many old houses have asbestos for insulating pipes, its in old vinyl floors and exterior cement clapboards.

    I'm not diminishing the fact that it can cause cancer but finding that it was used in a building and determining if its unsafe are two different things. My point is not to get overly alarmed and find out what they found and how they found it.
  19. macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2011
    In a sunny state of mind
    This seems like great advice to me. Get all the information you might need, and see your doctor for checkups to make sure you're healthy. And then don't kill yourself worrying... :eek:
  20. macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2011
    Completely agree - take as many details as you can. If you want more advice, check out an asbestos claims specialist to get professional advice.
  21. macrumors 65816


    Jan 24, 2011
    Canada, Eh?
    A lot of country already banned asbestos since the 80's. You either live in a country that hasnt banned the product, live in a building built earlier than the 80's or both.
  22. macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    How about Canada (actually Quebec being the tail wagging to dog) still allowing the mining and shipping asbestos to developing countries?

    Our hands are bloody too.
  23. macrumors P6


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    This is a false statement.

    I have asbestosis from my time in the navy. All it takes is a couple of fibers to cause mesothelioma and it happens a lot.

    This link is from my lawyer. Don't think he's an ambulance chaser because his brother died from meso and he has put all his efforts into curing the disease.

    Also you can read more here :
  24. macrumors 68000


    Aug 28, 2007
    SE Michigan
    A 2+ year old thread comes to "life", wonder what ever happened to the OP, "glocke12", does anyone know?
  25. macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2008
    AK, USA

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