I Breathed in Asbestos – What Should I Do?

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Asbestos is a building material that was widely used in past decades. After the 1970’s it has been banned for use on any dwelling. Unfortunately, there are still many places that contain this harmful toxin that has been known to cause mesothelioma, a specific cancer of the lungs. For this reason it is quite possible to come in contact with asbestos in a variety of places. Most people will panic as a first reaction if they feel they may have been exposed to asbestos. The following information will outline some of the actions you may take if you have been exposed to asbestos or have reason to believe you may have.

Make Sure the Substance Is Asbestos

If you are working some place and you discover evidence to suggest that there may be asbestos present, take a sample of the suspicious material and have it tested. If it tests positive for asbestos keep a copy of that report in case you need it in the future. Be very careful not to falsely accuse someone of having asbestos on their property without concrete evidence. Make sure that you take steps to cover any sample you are bringing with you carefully so that no one else is exposed to it or so that it does not get all over your vehicle and in the air for you to breathe.

Seek Medical Attention

The first thing you should do in any situation that causes you to believe that you may have come in contact with a harmful substance or chemical is to call your doctor or go to an emergency center to be checked over. When it comes to asbestos there will be no ill effects that will be life threatening at the very moment you have been exposed. With this particular substance the consequences of exposure do not occur until much later. For this reason there may be little that can be done on the same day that exposure has taken place. Nonetheless, because of the legal ramifications involved with asbestos it is a good idea to get documentation that you have information about asbestos being present at a specific location.

Powerful Expectorants

The best course of action, if you have breathed in a harmful toxin such as asbestos, is to try and expel as much as possible from your lungs as soon as possible. You can take something like mucinex that contain guaifenesin, a very strong expectorant, to try and loosen up mucus in your chest in the hopes of coughing the asbestos up along with it. Your doctor may even prescribe you a prescription strength version of this medication. There is also a possibility that a chest x-ray may be ordered.

Report Asbestos Exposure to Property Owner

As soon as you become aware that there is a problem with asbestos being located in a dwelling or on a construction site you must let the owner of the property know so that he/she can take steps to remove whatever asbestos is present. If the owner refuses to do anything about the problem then you can contact your local board of health to report the asbestos. By law any person who knowingly uses asbestos in a place where humans can come into contact with it can be brought to litigation and/or fined severely.

Contact an Attorney

After receiving documentation that you have been exposed to asbestos it will be a good idea to get in touch with an attorney to be sure you have all your bases covered in the event you end up having to bring suit against someone later on down the road. There are many class action suits that are still active today from family members and victims who have become ill from asbestos poisoning so this is always a good recourse for you. Remember that it could be years before you know whether or not the asbestos has caused you any negative side effects. This is why it is a good idea to have everything documented so that if you should need to bring legal action against someone you will have all your ducks in a row, so to speak.

Try Not to Stress Yourself Out

It is hard for someone else to tell you not to panic if you feel you may have been exposed to a life threatening substance but you must try and keep in mind that over the years there have been millions of people exposed to asbestos and only a small percentage of them actually became sick as a result. There is a very good possibility that nothing will ever come of your brief exposure to asbestos so do yourself a favor and stay calm. Your mind is very powerful and you can actually cause yourself to develop psychosomatic symptoms if you are not careful. Keep in mind that there is a higher probability that you will never become ill from the asbestos.

Asbestos is very rare today and will mostly be found in older buildings and dwellings so keep that in mind when suspecting that you may have come in contact with asbestos in a newer construction site. If you do come in contact with asbestos in a newer building then that may indicate that someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

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Christopher Jacoby

2 comments

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  • I have been exposed to asbestos few times in my life. I was in school where I and my friend drilled two screws in asbestos wall, after that I read about asbestos and I got really scared. I didn’t know then that it was asbestos wall. I couldn’t sleep in few months well and had really depressive anxiety. This article was really helpful coz I’ve been stressing so much about asbestos last two years, hope that someday I don’t have to stress it anymore 🙂

  • No health information here! Asbestos is one of the most minimally dangerous 'toxins' out there. Do your research.

    This article is really advice for ambulance chasers. See an attorney? Get a chest X-ray!!!! The danger of cancer from a chest film (1 in 1 million) is HIGHER than the risk from a single exposure to solid asbestos. Maybe the guy who wrote this needs to be subject of litigation.

Christopher Jacoby

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