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Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral composed of thin fibrous crystals, which, due to its structural properties, is innately resistant to heat and fire. Human use of asbestos dates back before the time of antiquity, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that widespread use of asbestos was employed for insulation purposes in the United States. The industrial revolution brought innovation and widespread application of asbestos in industries such as construction and automotives. By the 1930s, every branch of the U.S. military was using asbestos in hundreds of materials, especially the Navy, which found more than 300 uses for the toxic substance. Because of its vast uses, asbestos was utilized in the home, workplace, and community spaces.

Application of asbestos arguably flourished most in the construction industry. Countless products used in the construction business contained asbestos before the 1980s, when prevalent use of the caustic compound began to fade. In fact, any structure built before the ’80s may contain asbestos materials. Below are some possible sources of asbestos in the home (as reported from the EPA):

Historical use of asbestos in the workplace is a widespread issue that touches many industries. Many fields of work have led to asbestos exposure, such as:

Due to its extensive use in construction, asbestos can be found in community areas such as schools and older churches. Removal of asbestos from school buildings is an option for schools, but many have opted to manage the toxic substance and have yet to remove the material. Kept fully intact, asbestos causes no real threat to human health. However, if the material is damaged or disturbed, or deteriorates over time, asbestos fibers can be released and are easily inhaled. Once the microscopic particles are inhaled, asbestos fibers cannot be expelled or broken down by the body. They attach to the linings of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Over time, these fibers can lead to the development of illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can affect the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) or the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).

The EPA identifies the following materials as products that commonly contained asbestos, and notes many of these materials may still be in use:

Exposure is the key to any mesothelioma lawsuits that are brought against defendants.