A CDC report found Maine to have the highest asbestos-related
deaths in the US; researchers believe residents, workers are
exposed from the state's old homes that still use asbestos insulation
Despite regulation efforts, mesothelioma deaths still persist. Although the number of deaths over the age of 55 has decreased, the number of deaths among younger people has increased. Researchers from the CDC have surmised that this uptick among younger people is from workers and handlers of asbestos.
Maine in particular has some of the oldest housing stock in the country with 31% of its units built before 1950. As a result, Maine homes are more likely to contain asbestos than in homes in other states where different forms of insulation may be used. When these old homes are renovated or repaired, improper asbestos handling can release asbestos fibers into the air. These fibers can get lodged in the respiratory system and cause cancer.
"Prevention is important," Dr. Chris Pezzullo, Maine's chief medical officer, said in a recent press release.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers are particularly difficult to treat because there are no cures. Even before cancer develops, it is virtually impossible to extract the asbestos fibers from the respiratory system once they are inhaled. Because mesothelioma takes years to develop and its symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses, cases are usually not diagnosed until it is too late.
This report follows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The act is expected to review asbestos among other environmental toxins for restricting their use.
Because of the pervasiveness of asbestos in old homes, anyone can be exposed to asbestos; however, asbestos workers should take extra caution during renovation and repair work. Not only can it prevent illness for them, it can prevent illnesses for others.
To learn more about the report, visit the CDC's website. To learn more about asbestos work and asbestos awareness, visit Zack Academy's asbestos certification homepage.