Exposure to asbestos during our lifetime can be a common occurrence. Depending on the house you grew up in, where your parents worked, what you did for a living, how your home was insulated, chances are you were exposed to asbestos. It is a known carcinogen, a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in products for centuries because of its fireproofing and insulating properties. Although the facts about asbestos exposure leading to illness have been known for decades, it continues to be used in products. Asbestos is not banned in the United States.
We know that asbestos is still used in certain industries. The most commonly known products are automotive brakes, pipes and flooring. We do not expect to find it in personal consumer goods, but in 2015 four types of crayons were found to contain asbestos. The crayons were manufactured in China and sold in the United States. We do not expect that asbestos would be in our children’s crayons.
This past week it has been reported that asbestos has been found in some makeup products sold by a popular store for young teenagers. Tremolite fibers, one of the forms of asbestos, were reportedly found in the talc of one of the lines of cosmetics. Currently in the United States the Food and Drug Administration does not permit the use of asbestos in cosmetics. However, the FDA does not require manufacturers to test their products, nor even recommend that the most effective means be used to identify asbestos. The store involved is conducting its own investigation. They have stopped the sale of the product while the investigation is ongoing. We do not expect to find asbestos in our children’s makeup.
Protecting our children from harm is a primary responsibility of parents. Sometimes the harm is hidden. The time between exposure and developing the disease is decades. Less than 1% of people exposed to asbestos develop mesothelioma. Of the less than 1% that do develop mesothelioma at least 80% is caused by identifiable exposures to asbestos exposure decades earlier. The remaining mesothelioma cases may very well be caused by other asbestos exposures that are now being uncovered, such as asbestos in cosmetic products.
Asbestos related diseases are preventable. Awareness about what asbestos is, education regarding where it is used and in what products is available. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization is a web site to check out to become educated and aware of the dangers of asbestos (www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org).
Asbestos is not banned in the United States it is important that we all become aware of the potential danger of this carcinogen.