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What are the health risks of asbestos in attic insulation?

A:

Quick Answer

Since asbestos is most commonly absorbed through breathing, it is most harmful to a person's lungs, according to Oregon State University. The three main health conditions associated with asbestos are asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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Full Answer

Asbestos is dangerous because it can be broken down into fibers that are so small that they cannot be seen or felt, notes the Minnesota Department of Health. These fibers can remain airborne for days. During this time, they can become lodged in the tissue of a person's lungs, which can lead to scaring of the lungs, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Since asbestos fibers are so small, the person cannot feel it being inhaled into his lungs. There is no physical indication of whether or not a person is breathing in asbestos.

Asbestos is most dangerous when it is disturbed, as this causes the tiny fiber particles to be released into the air, explains the Minnesota Department of Health. Asbestos needs to be removed carefully to avoid further air contamination. While it can be done without help, it is always best to seek a professional to ensure that it is safely and completely removed from the home.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is used in the construction of a variety of products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that the United States has banned the use of it in most products, but it is still sometimes used in building materials, as of 2015. Although the United States banned the use of insulation products containing asbestos in the 1970s, many older homes may still contain insulation contaminated by asbestos.

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