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Exposure to asbestos: Three critical things to know

Although the Minnesota state and federal governments have tried to regulate and eliminate the use of asbestos, it is still a threat to individuals both young and old. And knowing about those risks is the first step to determining how to protect yourself or take action if you or a loved one suffered from exposure to asbestos.

So, here are three essential things that everyone should know about asbestos exposure, regardless of their age:

1. There is more than one way to be exposed to asbestos

Inhaling asbestos is generally the most common form of exposure. From the breakdown of asbestos insulation in old buildings, or even the new asbestos concerns in Claire's products, inhaling asbestos carries the highest risk of exposure.

However, swallowing asbestos is also a danger. This form of exposure is not as common anymore, but in the past, there have been concerns with asbestos cement pipes contaminating our drinking water. For example, Duluth's drinking water contained hazardous amounts of asbestos for quite some time.

Most of these pipes were renovated to reduce the risk of exposure. However, it is still critical to be aware of this risk.

2. Some factors can determine the effects of the exposure

It always bears repeating: no amount of asbestos exposure is safe. There is always a risk involved if you are exposed.

However, it is important to know that there are some factors that can influence how the exposure might impact you, such as:

  • The size and shape of the asbestos fibers
  • How long the exposure occurred
  • The source of the exposure, such as insulation
  • Your age and even your genetics

Again, any exposure to asbestos is dangerous. But these factors might help determine how much risk you might face.

3. The latency period is often one of the most dangerous aspects of exposure

Mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases are known for appearing much later in life, long after the initial exposure to asbestos. That is because diseases caused by asbestos exposure often have a significant latency period. 

During the latency period, the disease is essentially dormant and developing slowly. It starts from the moment of exposure but can take between nearly 10 to 30 years to appear. The length of the latency period can depend on several factors, including the ones listed above. 

This is often one of the most dangerous parts of asbestos exposure since individuals might not be aware of the risks they face until long after the initial exposure.

Understanding the risks is one step, but if any Minnesotans have concerns about these risks, it would be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to determine the next steps moving forward.

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