Asbestos seems like a threat long since past. Most countries stopped using it in buildings by the 1990s and many have removed the dangerous substance in the years following. When the mesothelioma commercials flash across the screen, people don’t pay attention to the real threat of asbestos exposure.
Residents of Canberra, Australia, deal with the repercussions of asbestos use every day.
In the 1960s, a company called ‘Mr. Fluffy’ specialized in insulating houses and grew in popularity. The quick, inexpensive and fire-resistant nature of the product led many to choose this option. Employees for Mr. Fluffy sprayed loose asbestos in the roofs and walls of the homes, guaranteeing safety but plaguing families for decades.
A clean up project in the 1980s attempted to vacuum the substance out of the houses, but the damage was far from over. The years it rested in the homes allowed it to travel through vents and rest on furniture items, looking like regular dust. Most Mr. Fluffy homes are registered, but some families still don’t know if they’re at risk.
While discussions in Australia continue about how to deal with this continuing health crisis, leaders in Israel are working to replace roofs containing asbestos that fall in the danger zone with Gaza.
As fires rage in the war zone, concern grows for those living in asbestos-ridden homes. Rocket fire has already collapsed roofs, releasing the fibers into homes and in the air, threatening to enter the lungs of anyone who comes too close.
Asbestos continues to threaten lives of the young and old every day. It stays forgotten in homes and buildings and lies dormant in the body while slowly infecting the lungs of its host and leading to mesothelioma, asbestosis or other cancers.
Studies continue to find new treatments and combinations to extend life, but mesothelioma is still without a cure and kills most within a year of diagnosis. Every exposure is dangerous.
Be aware of the risks and learn to identify asbestos fibers.
Farrell, P. (2014). Mr. Fluffy: The cancerous legacy hidden in hundreds of Canberra homes. The Guardian. [Link]
Udasin, S. (2014). State and local council to replace asbestos roofs in the line of fire from Gaza. Jerusalem Post. [Link]