Asbestos in Historical Airport Buildings

Asbestos in Historical Airport Buildings

From the Industrial Revolution through the 1980s, many manufacturing companies used asbestos without significant regulation. As a result, older buildings may still have asbestos-containing products.

Along with other industries of the last century, the construction industry jumped on the new and versatile material to benefit from its many qualities, especially from its low price range, paying little attention to the health risks of using building materials made with asbestos. It has put construction workers at some of the highest risks of asbestos exposure through inhaling or ingesting the toxic fibers. Once inside the body, these sharp-edged mineral fibers cause irreversible damage to major organs and cause severe asbestos conditions like cancer or acute respiratory illnesses such as:

Asbestos also becomes hazardous when wear and tear damages insulation or products made with asbestos over time. Still, it represents a health risk only when disturbed and microscopic particles become airborne.

Nowadays, it is proven that residential and commercial buildings built before the 1980s contain asbestos products to various degrees. Old airport buildings are no exception, as the mineral was the most applied fireproofing material coating steel beams and columns during the construction. However, large buildings in the airports harbored a plethora of asbestos-containing goods, such as:

Many airport buildings were constructed in the 1940s, during the peak of asbestos use, and when their structures were renovated or torn down in the following decades, the risks of asbestos exposure rose again. Additionally, refurbishments always involve demolition, further increasing the chances of disturbing asbestos and thus releasing dangerous asbestos fibers.

While giving old airport buildings a new, fresher look or conducting needed renovations, everyone working there, including construction workers, maintenance personnel, and other airport employees, risked asbestos exposure. Moreover, they may have endangered the health of their families by carrying the toxic fibers home with their clothing, gear, or bodies.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure Has the Same Risks as Primary Exposure

As asbestos use increased, occupational health professionals became more aware of the danger of asbestos fibers in the workplace. Studies about the risks of asbestos exposure date back to the 1940s, but the asbestos industry refused to accept that asbestos fibers might remain within the body and pose a significant health risk. In some instances, secondary asbestos exposure has reached occupational levels. This is more likely to occur when a person is working in a high-exposure sector, such as construction. However, families of those who worked in asbestos-contaminated places also risked being exposed to the toxic fibers unknowingly.

Secondary asbestos exposure is just as hazardous as primary asbestos exposure when someone is exposed to asbestos repeatedly, whether directly or indirectly, over an extended period. When all these factors meet, the chances of developing severe and even deadly illnesses due to asbestos exposure potentially increase.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.