Who is At Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
There were hundreds of occupations affected by asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used in thousands of commercial products and industrial capacities and those working with the material in these industries are potentially at risk of harmful exposure. Industries in which asbestos use was particularly prevalent include shipbuilding, commercial product manufacturing, power plants, and construction. Workers employed in these industries prior to 1980 likely encountered asbestos products.
While asbestos exposure is hazardous, not all asbestos products are inherently hazardous. Because asbestos must be inhaled to represent a health risk, only loose asbestos fibers or those in the air supply (a condition known as friable) represent a true hazard. Stable asbestos compounds, such as intact cement, tiles, or other products are generally not an immediate hazard.
Exposure to friable asbestos fibers was common when grinding, chipping, demolishing, or retrofitting asbestos products. Each of these functions could potentially release asbestos into the air supply where it would be easily inhaled.