by Rachel Lynch
Bringing eco-friendly, natural, and non-toxic products into your home is great and contributes to a long and healthy life but all the products in the world can’t make up for a toxic home. You may be thinking to yourself – my home isn’t toxic! Even if you have all the best products invisible structural aspects of your house could be wreaking havoc on your body.
Asbestos, a known carcinogen, is still legal in the United States and is present in countless homes and public spaces across the country. The toxin was used in building materials through the 1970s and can be found in wallpaper, insulation, piping, and radiators among many other products. Asbestos was used in such applications for its ability to resist heat, fire, and electricity. Unfortunately these seemingly advantageous abilities came with a very grave downfall. Asbestos particles are the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2,400 to 2,800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States every year.
There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos but the danger increases when the toxin is disturbed and particles are released into the air. When inhaled the asbestos particles embed in the lining of the organs where the cancer develops. There are four different types of mesothelioma – lung, heart, abdominal, and testicular. Each form of mesothelioma presents with different symptoms making the disease difficult to diagnose. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma so preventative measures are imperative – avoiding unnecessary exposure is critical.
Currently the greatest risk of exposure is during home renovation projects. Americans completing their own home repairs without the help of a professional run the risk of exposing themselves to the toxin, such exposure can be fatal. Major home improvement organizations – such as HGTV – are still touting the ease of home improvement projects that can cause the cancer. On December 19, HGTV posted a video to their facebook profile informing people how to remove the once common popcorn ceilings that have since gone out of fashion. In the video they demonstrate how to sand off the ceiling to reveal the popcorn free beauty underneath. Completing this project on a home constructed through the 1970s would result in inhalation of the toxic dust. Before undertaking this, or any home repairs, samples should be taken to ensure there is no asbestos present in your home.
Exposing yourself, or your loved ones, to asbestos begins a terribly long fight with mesothelioma cancer. The disease has a latency period of 20 to 40 years before the symptoms manifest making it difficult to diagnose. After that much time has passed many patients have simply forgotten, or did not realize, the exposure ever happened and don’t mention it to their physician after the onset of symptoms.
Recognizing the symptoms is yet another hurdle that stands between patients and an accurate diagnosis. The four different types of the disease present themselves differently. The symptoms of each are related to where the cancer forms. For instance – peritoneal mesothelioma, in the lining of the abdomen, includes symptoms of nausea, unexplained weight loss, blood clots, and low blood sugar. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of the disease but has a slightly higher prognosis than the other types.
Most mesothelioma patients only have 12 to 21 months to live following their diagnosis. Often times the patient doesn’t receive the proper diagnosis until the cancer has spread from its original location to elsewhere within the body. At the later stages of the disease treatments are generally no longer a viable option and a patient only receives palliative care.
If your home was built from the 1930s to through the 1970s simply taking the time to have a specialist inspect for asbestos could ensure that your family won’t be added to the long list of those touched by mesothelioma cancer. Begin 2018 by taking control of your surroundings to ensure that you have a happy and healthy year!