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Lung diseases

Asbestos Exposure

04/22/2010

Question:

I may have been exposed to asbestos a few times (2-3) in my life for very brief periods <6 hours each at most without respiratory protection. Cutting "popcorn" ceiling (little dust), removing old drywall, removing old roofing material/ insulation.

I was wondering if I should be concerned with devolping an asbestos related illness later in life. I`m 37 now.

thanks!

Answer:

Given that you've had very short and infrequent exposures to asbestos, I feel that you are not at much risk for disease from these exposures. The occupations with the highest risks include miners, construction and building rehabilitation workers, and World War II era shipbuilders. As with many potentially hazardous exposures, those having the greatest risk are workers, who often spend decades working with higher than normal levels of these agents.

There are asbestos fibers floating around in the environment all the time, just not very many of them. This is the background exposure. Your exposure is probably not much, if any, above background.

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Response by:

J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN
Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University