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Top Asbestos Myths


TopMyths About Asbestos and Mesothelioma

You know that asbestos is bad – we all know that by now. But beyond this, there is a lot of misinformation out there about asbestos and mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to be armed with accurate information about asbestos health risks. Today we’ll dispel some of the most prevalent myths about asbestos.

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#1 Asbestos has been banned

This one is an unfortunate untruth. It was banned very briefly by the EPA in 1989 but manufacturers threw big money at lobbying efforts and were able to get the ban overturned by 1991. Asbestos is still allowed to be used in new products and millions of older products that contained asbestos are still in use.

#2 Asbestos is bad only in large doses

This is also inaccurate. According to the EPA, no amount of asbestos exposure is safe. You can develop an asbestos illness after one exposure, after prolonged exposure or even from second-hand exposure where you inhale asbestos off someone else’s work clothing. No amount of asbestos is safe for you.

#3 Asbestos illness only affects those in high-risk industries

It’s true that some industries like construction and shop-building carry higher instances of mesothelioma and asbestos disease, but because asbestos is present in tens of millions of homes and businesses, potentially many more millions are at risk if this asbestos is disturbed and they’re exposed.

#4 Asbestos manufacturers didn’t know the substance was toxic

This one is categorically false. As far back as the early 1900s, medical studies began to tie asbestos exposure to lung disorders and fatal illnesses. Despite knowledge of the dangers, companies chose to continue using asbestos because it was cost-effective. Simply, they chose profit over people.

#5 Asbestos is not the only cause of mesothelioma – smoking can also cause it

This one is medically inaccurate. There is no proof to show that smoking causes mesothelioma. Smoking can cause lung cancer but alone will not cause mesothelioma. Smoking combined with asbestos exposure, though, can exponentially increase the risk of developing a serious illness.

#6 Asbestos caused mesothelioma is the same thing as lung cancer

Although mesothelioma can affect the lungs, it can also affect other areas of the body. It is a different disease than lung cancer although lung cancer can also be caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma, though, is nearly always caused by asbestos while lung cancer can be caused by a number of factors.

#7 Asbestos side effects are felt immediately after exposure

Unlike many other toxins, you will have no idea that asbestos has affected you until it’s too late. Some asbestos illnesses will take just 10 years to gestate and show symptoms, but most diseases caused by asbestos take much longer and it may be 20-50 years between exposure and diagnosis.

#8 Asbestos in your home should be thrown away ASAP

This is definitely untrue and a dangerous myth. If you do discover there is asbestos in your home, it’s critical that you not disturb it. Asbestos is at its most dangerous when it is exposed to the air you breathe. As a result, it should only be removed by a professional experienced in asbestos abatement.

#9 Asbestos only makes older people sick

While it is true that most mesothelioma sufferers are older, people of any age can be sickened by asbestos exposure. Some young people in their late teens and 20s have been diagnosed with asbestosis and/or mesothelioma as a result of exposure when they were children, although this is more rare.

#10 Asbestos isn’t dangerous to be around if you wear a mask

This is a dangerous myth. Standard masks that you get at the home improvement store will not protect you from asbestos. When professionals work to remove asbestos from homes and buildings, they have to suit up in layers of protective gear, full face respirators and have all body parts protected.

#11 Asbestos workers knew and accepted the risks of their job

While it’s true that some industries are high risk and the workers knowingly accept it, the dangers of asbestos were kept from workers. Some didn’t know they were working with components that contained asbestos and others were assured that precautions had been taken. This is a terrible myth

#12 Asbestos litigation allows people to commit fraud

A piece of legislation called the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act has passed the House and is being considered by the Senate that claims it will stop asbestos claim abuse. Fraudulent claims are very low and the act is a maneuver to protect companies from being held accountable.

In future blogs, we’ll explore each of these asbestos myths more fully to clear up any confusion and misinformation that has been disseminated about asbestos, asbestos exposure and the illnesses that asbestos causes.


If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma, contact Bergman Draper Oslund for help. We fight for victims’ rights and have won more than $500 million for mesothelioma victims and their families. Contact us for a free private consultation – we’re ready to help.