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How much asbestos exposure can you have on the job safely?
There are different risks in work environments. Some people, like those who work in retail or hospital settings, have a higher-than-average risk for violence on the job. Other people are at risk of physical injury because they work with heavy machinery.
People in many different Industries can experience exposure to dangerous substances as part of their job. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that manufacturers have historically used in hundreds of different products. Although the government now carefully regulates manufacturing with asbestos and the removal of it from a space, older products in many different fields may still have asbestos in them.
Those working on seafaring vessels, on buildings constructed before 1981 or even on vintage vehicles could wind up exposed to asbestos. How much exposure is reasonable and safe in a work environment?
The federal limit on asbestos is very strict
Inhaling just a little bit of asbestos can significantly increase somebody’s risk of developing serious medical conditions in the future. Asbestos has a strong correlation with asbestosis, a lung condition. It also increases someone’s risk of developing lung cancer. Beyond that, mesothelioma, cancer of the organ linings, also has a strong connection with environmental asbestos exposure.
The exposure limit looks at the average amount of asbestos in the air in a space over the course of eight hours. The limit is 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air. There is also a secondary limit that looks at asbestos in the air over a 30-minute period. Employers should monitor the asbestos level in a space and take all necessary precautions to avoid exposing their workers to an unsafe level of particulate asbestos.
How should an employer protect you?
When on the job, your employer should test for and report asbestos levels in the space. They may also need to provide safety equipment for their workers, including protective clothing and respirators. Even decontamination after working with asbestos can be important, as people could carry the particulate asbestos home on their hair or clothing and possibly endanger their loved ones.
Those who develop medical symptoms related to asbestos exposure on the job may require workers’ compensation benefits. Learning more about environmental job risks can help you better advocate for yourself at work and when you need benefits.