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Asbestos was used in plenty in different aspects of building construction before the 1980s. Among other places, it is found in vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl floor tiles, and also in vinyl wallpaper. The reason for adding asbestos to these products was very practical; it made the products stronger, more resistant to scratching and scuffmarks, and extremely resilient to humidity. Using asbestos in products that were intended to last for decades seemed like a good idea decades ago, before it became public that asbestos was a health hazard and caused cancers, including mesothelioma.
According to a new Environmental Working Group (EWG) study, every day 30 persons die due to asbestos exposure in the U.S. which amounts to almost 10,000 deaths in a year. What is worse, the figures continue to be upwardly mobile. Owing to the unusually long gestation period of 20 to 50 years, many persons continue to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases almost 30 years after the ban on using asbestos in any product was put in place. Additionally, since much of the construction that happened between 1900s and the ban is being currently demolished or renovated, the asbestos exposure in the construction industries continues.
Most libraries, schools, theaters, office buildings, and other workplaces throughout the United States used Vinyl products. Even after the ban on use of asbestos in vinyl products, nothing was done to recall or protect consumers from existing asbestos in vinyl floor tiles and vinyl wallpaper. After the passage of so much time since the vinyl flooring was first installed, the flooring has aged and deteriorated, and it is only natural that owners of such properties want to remove or renovate.
The exercise is not without danger and should ideally be assigned to professionals with experience in such jobs. Any tampering with vinyl sheet flooring is likely to cause breakage and release tiny asbestos fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled. Once these fibers enter the body, they get lodged in the lining of the lungs or stomach or even the heart. Here, they remain festering for many, many years and cause irritation and inflammation that eventually turns malignant. The infected person becomes aware only after symptoms appear like breathlessness, loss of weight, weakness, and others appear and tests reveal the cancer that is generally in the last stages. No cure for the disease exists and only palliative measures can be adopted.
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