This is a guest blog by writers from SurvivingMesothelioma.com, a US based website with plenty of information and advice about asbestos and the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
Protecting your children from the harmful mineral asbestos should be an important priority to all parents. While decreasing in prevalence, asbestos can still be found in many places and exposure could have devastating consequences.
What is asbestos?
Representing six fibrous minerals, asbestos was popular and used by manufacturers throughout the majority of the 20th century due to its attractive properties, which can include strengthening a product with its strong fibres, or offering an insulating effect at a very low cost.
Banned by the UK in 1999, it is considered a carcinogen because it is responsible for mesothelioma, a fatal cancer very few survive. Asbestos is still found in the UK in many old buildings, especially older schools which were built with materials that contained asbestos before the ban. Unlike the UK, there is no comprehensive ban in the US, although most companies have voluntarily removed asbestos from their products. Still, some countries like Canada have, up until recently, continued to mine and export asbestos to other nations.
Exposure to asbestos at any level is high risk
No matter the age of a person there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Some children have been exposed to asbestos when their parents bring it home on dirty work clothes. For a small percentage of these children, this asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma many decades later. Therefore, it is important for parents to educate themselves on what products may contain asbestos.
Schools in the UK
Between the 1940s and 1980s, many schools in the U.K. were built with products that contained asbestos. Between 2003 and 2012, a reported 224 teachers died of mesothelioma. Now schools are trying to figure out ways to raise money to get asbestos completely removed. A few schools have already been using their own allotted funds to have the mineral removed.
Asbestos can be found almost anywhere around an old college or university campus. The most common areas that asbestos can be found include:
- cement ceiling panels
- walls or wall panels
- insulation panels around pipes
- roof panels
As a parent, you’ll want to confirm your child is attending an asbestos-free school or one where any asbestos containing material is closely monitored. Always check with the school authorities to confirm this. If your child’s school is not free of asbestos, you might want to find out if the asbestos represents a threat to your child’s health and safety.
Popular children’s products that contain asbestos
The toys children play with can also contain asbestos. It’s becoming a rarer occurrence since manufacturers know that it can result in lawsuits. However, there are a few products that remain on the market that still have traces of asbestos:
- Smartlab Catch the Thief Kit – sand
- Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce 10 Jumbo Crayons
- Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons (5 composites)
- Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man 3-pack Confetti Crayons
- Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit–white fingerprint powder
- EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit– Black fingerprint powder
- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 10 Jumbo Crayons
- Disney Doc McStuffins Jumbo Crayons
- Amscan Crayons (4 pieces)
You’ll want to keep your child away from these products. Even though some of these products contain only traces of asbestos, it’s not worth the risk. Furthermore, refusing to purchase products with asbestos will make a clear statement to corporations that the public wants to be asbestos-free.
Children can be exposed to asbestos in old buildings
It can be in your own home, a nursery, a shop, and even at your favourite restaurant. If your family is spending time in an old building you’ll want to know. If it’s a building built before the 1980s, there is a higher possibility of it being discovered. You can never go wrong in simply asking the owners or someone in authority about the presence of asbestos if your family spends any significant time in an old building.
If you live in an old home and you’re not sure if you have an asbestos problem don’t try to investigate by yourself. Be sure to contact professional asbestos consultants. They have the protective gear, and expertise. It’s not worth putting your family at risk. Together we can make sure the next generation is never exposed to asbestos.