The sign on your drywall reads, “DANGER: CONTAINS ASBESTOS, A Recognized CARCINOGEN,” or it would in a perfect world. In an ideal world, neither the sign nor the presence of asbestos in your home will be appropriate. Unfortunately, asbestos can be contained in a number of locations around the building, and the contaminated products are often not labelled. Fortunately, information is available.
For thousands of years, asbestos has been mined all over the world. Asbestos-related health issues have been known for almost as long, with some cases dating back to Ancient Rome. Even so, it took the medical profession until the early 1900s for the general public to recognize the risks that asbestos posed to those who were exposed to it. Despite doctors’ warnings, asbestos production grew in tandem with demand for the fire-resistant, sound-insulating content. At one point, the US military also made it mandatory for all branches of the military to use asbestos. As a result of what can only be described as willful negligence on the part of mining firms and manufacturers, asbestos has found its way into anything from automobiles to garments to building materials all over the world. The first attempts by manufacturers and the general public to step away from the widespread use of asbestos in building and manufacturing occurred in the 1970s, but asbestos use in construction was not fully phased out in the United States until the 1980s. As a result, asbestos is still present in many homes.
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