Asbestos exposure can cause cancer. It does not necessarily mean you will develop cancer, though. Your risk depends on the type and level of exposure. For example, if you stand outside a house and touch a piece of siding that contains asbestos, you are unlikely to develop cancer. However, if you are involved in manufacturing or tearing down the siding and do not use the appropriate safety equipment, your risk of asbestos exposure may increase. Asbestos insulation removal also requires safety precautions.
There are many household products and construction products that may contain asbestos. Asbestos is a natural material that product manufacturers use for sound absorption, strengthening, insulation, and many other purposes.1
Contact with workplace asbestos
One source of asbestos exposure at home is through contact with the clothing of someone who handles asbestos at work.2 If someone in your family works with asbestos-containing materials, you may come into contact with asbestos through sharing furniture, doing laundry, or even giving them a hug before they change their clothing.
One of the main industries where asbestos is used is the construction industry. According to the National Cancer Institute, companies use asbestos in many products including:1
- Insulation (including vermiculite-contaminated insulation)
- Electrical materials
- Floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
The Environmental Protection Agency lists additional construction products that may include asbestos:3
- Cement pipes
- Vinyl sheet flooring
- Flooring backing
- Construction mastics
- Ceiling lay-in panels
- Thermal taping compounds
- Packing materials for walls and floors
- Ductwork flexible fabric connections
- Roofing shingles
- Roofing felt
- Base flashing
- Vinyl wall coverings
- Spackling compounds
If you are working on a home repair or construction project and expect to encounter asbestos-containing materials, you should take appropriate precautions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published safety guidelines for construction workers.4
Construction is not the only industry where manufacturers use asbestos. You may find asbestos-containing products in the following common industrial products:1
- Garden products
Paints and adhesives can be found in many manufactured products.
If you believe you or someone in your family has contracted asbestos-related cancer through exposure at work or at home, you can contact a personal injury attorney to pursue litigation.