Asbestos is one of those double-edged swords. Its properties make it an amazing shield against heat, fire and chemical exposure on one hand. But, if fibers are inhaled, asbestos can also be a significant hazard to human health. It’s known to increase the risk of an array of health conditions from nonmalignant breathing disorders to cancers of the lung and of the chest and abdomen. That’s mesothelioma.

Because of the risks, in the 1970s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of asbestos in certain building materials — a practice that had been followed for many decades. Indeed, asbestos had been mined and used in many industries since the late 1800s.

In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of asbestos in any new products going forward. Since then, domestic use of asbestos has fallen way off. But there is still a lot of it out there. That being so, many in Connecticut may wonder where exposure might come from.

According to the CPSC, sources of concern may include:

  • Boilers, pipes and ductwork installed in buildings in the 1970s or before. Very often these were insulated with products using asbestos.
  • Older flooring and tiles made with rubber, vinyl or asphalt and asbestos. These can release fibers if proper precautions aren’t taken during removal or care.
  • Textured paints or other sprayed on materials, such as soundproofing, could be worth worrying about.
  • Older household products such as hairdryers, ironing board covers and stovetop pads might also warrant attention.

These aren’t all the possible sources, and it’s important to be aware that the threat of exposure isn’t a matter of it being present. It often only becomes a problem if a product is disturbed. But that can happen as a result of wear and tear or haphazard renovation or repair work. And if property owners fail to take proper precautions when dealing with asbestos and illness results, they may be held legally liable for costs that victims incur.