Pregnancy and Asbestos Exposure
If you are currently expecting a child, it is only natural to be concerned with the numerous aspects which might put the health of your unborn baby in danger, including hazardous agents. While carcinogens such as lead and mercury can undoubtedly affect your pregnancy, as they have a different structure than asbestos, the latter rarely poses a serious risk. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral which, despite having microscopic fibers, cannot infiltrate the placenta and is thereby unable to reach your child. It is important to keep in mind that the only routes of exposure to asbestos are inhalation and ingestion. Therefore, in the unlikely event toxic fibers enter the placenta, the chances of asbestos fibers finding their way into the body of your baby are extremely small.
What Do Health Agencies Have to Say on the Matter?
According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, "developing fetuses and infants are not likely to be exposed to asbestos through the placenta or breast milk of the mother”. While asbestos fibers can infiltrate the bloodstream, the number of fibers which do so is very small and this is quite a rare occurrence, to begin with. Consequently, asbestos fibers are also unable to contaminate breast milk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees, their researchers not having found any evidence that asbestos fibers can make their way into the bloodstream in dangerous amounts.
That being said, even though you should not worry regarding your unborn child, you should avoid asbestos exposure at any cost during pregnancy for your own sake, as well as of your baby's after it is born. Asbestos is highly carcinogenic and, although it is generally people who were heavily exposed in industrial settings who develop a disease, no contact with this mineral is completely safe. It is important to know that the health consequences of asbestos exposure are not immediate – it may take between 10 and 50 years for a disease to ensue. Furthermore, if you already suffer from a disease which hinders your breathing capacity as a result of asbestos exposure and are pregnant, your baby might suffer due to your condition. Because it will not be receiving sufficient oxygen, your child might not undergo a normal and healthy development.
If you plan to become a parent and your house has asbestos products which are not in good condition, we advise you to have these potentially harmful materials professionally removed from your home beforehand. This way, not only will you ensure a safe and clean environment for you and your partner, but also for your future child. You can find a list of licensed asbestos removal companies for each state at the end of our free, downloadable guide.