Tuesday, March 31

The Dangers of Asbestos

Today is the last day of the Fire Prevention Month. Today, I have also read news about a fire that turned out to be one that was owned by the mom of a blogger friend. I felt the sudden panic that made me reassess the precautionary fireproofing measures that our home has. One of those that I have noted is our firewall. The firewall is the part of the house that separates it from the houses of the neighbors. Just in case a fire starts from the other house, it will prevent the fire from spreading into yours.

Firewalls are common sights in apartment buildings, townhouses, and duplexes. Asbestos is the material in house firewalls that make it fireproof. It is a metamorphic mineral that has been used for the same purpose even in the ancient times. In 1972, the United States started banning the use of asbestos in construction because of the danger that it poses to human health. One of these bad effects of asbestos inhalation is mesothelioma, a type of cancer that strikes the membrane surrounding the body's vital organs.

So was my firewall made with asbestos? Honestly, I think it probably does because our country still do not have legal sanctions on the use of this material. There is, however, a bill in Congress that proposes to regulate (not ban) the use of asbestos. My neighbor's firewall is facing our bedroom window. Although I know that it will take years to make the paint covering it fade away and expose the asbestos applied to it, it still is of major concern. What is more depressing to think about is the welfare of the workers who have applied the asbestos on the firewall and more so of the factory workers in the asbestos manufacturing plant! These people cannot even afford a simple medical treatment. Obviously, they cannot afford hiring Mesothelioma lawyers to sue their employers.

This is just one of the realities of being in a Third World country. The least I can do to help prevent this is to spread the word about it.

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