Over the past few decades, we have come to know just how dangerous asbestos really is. This strong, heat-resistant “magic mineral” was once added to nearly anything that needed to withstand extreme temperatures. Asbestos was particularly prevalent in the construction industry, where it was mixed into everything from cement sheeting and drywall to roofing and flooring tiles to insulation. Small household appliances like popcorn poppers and hair dryers used to contain asbestos, as well as larger appliances as well. That old dryer sitting in your basement could very well contain parts involving asbestos. Luckily, contemporary appliance parts are free of harmful asbestos, keeping you and your family safe.
Now, of course, most of us are aware of this health hazard and carefully examine our homes for traces of the material. Those who worked in factories or in the construction or shipbuilding industries are at the greatest risk, since their exposure to asbestos was severe and prolonged, but even brief periods of exposure have been shown to cause serious health problems. The worst of these is a cancer of the lining of the chest or abdomen called mesothelioma. Sadly, many employers and manufacturers were aware of the dangers of asbestos long before they began protecting their workers or customers.
For most companies, the threat of a mesothelioma lawsuit is enough to prevent them from using the material any longer, but contamination is still happening. Zonolite, a brand of vermiculite insulation, can still be found in many homes. Vermiculite itself is not harmful, but this mineral is found in the same underground deposits as asbestos, tainting the vermiculite. The EPA has still yet to issue a statement about the dangers of Zonolite, let alone take any action on the matter, so many people are unaware of the dangers posed by this type of insulation. It is worth examining your home’s insulation to see if it contains either asbestos or vermiculite. If this is the case, contact a professional abatement team to have the material removed and disposed of safely.