There are some people who are more at risk for asbestos exposure than others. Construction workers and automotive repair workers tend to come into contact with asbestos when renovating older buildings and changing car brake pads and shoes, respectively. However, a surprising group of people who are exposed to asbestos are those who work and go to school in old buildings.
We tend to think of older people as more at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases since they were surrounded by the material until the 1980s. However, asbestos still lurks in many buildings, which can expose small children to the toxic material, especially in older schools.
The widespread influence of asbestos can be explained by considering the numerous beneficial characteristics of it. First, asbestos is a member of the silicate mineral family. Silicates are well-known for their insulating properties. For example, silicates act as resistors against electricity, chemicals, heat, and flames. Additionally, they are very long-lasting. Next, asbestos itself has several useful properties. It is flexible and has high tensile strength, which means that it is easily added to a variety of different things.
Perhaps this also explains why asbestos gained such a foothold in many different industries, such as construction, shipping, and automotive. Buildings can contain asbestos in insulation, vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, roofing tar, and even fire doors. The same applies to ships. Cars can have asbestos in their brake pads, brake shoes, and discs. However, it is the asbestos that is present in older buildings that puts children most at risk.
Asbestos only becomes dangerous when it is airborne or waterborne. From there, you can inhale or ingest the carcinogen. Because your body is not able to break down and process the microscopic fibers, they become lodged in your tissues. Your body may then grow nodules around the fibers, which can later turn into cancerous tumors.
Even though asbestos is fairly resistant to degradation, age, friction, and things like natural disasters can all stir up the particles so that they are able to be inhaled or ingested. For instance, if a school is having the floor redone, asbestos pieces from the old flooring can be cast into the air. From here, children at school can be exposed to the toxicities of asbestos.