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Nov 29, 201812:46 PMOpen Mic

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The dangers of asbestos in the office: What to look out for

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As buildings age, renovations will need to be made. Some projects may include tearing down walls and ripping up floors, which unfortunately would constitute as a disruption. Newer companies that operate in older buildings like to add their own flair, which means that aged office space is more likely to be renovated for personal company reasons or simply just to be brought up to code. If your company is planning or has recently done renovations that include construction work, get involved. Ask what types of renovations are being done, what the building is made of, and what your company’s doing to create a safe work environment if there are concerns.

Building history

Depending on where you work and how old your office building is, there might be an opportunity for you to ask about the history of the building. If you are working in a building constructed before the 1980s, asbestos has the potential to lurk. Although asbestos has been banned in nearly 60 countries, the United States is not among them. In fact, 1 percent of asbestos material is still allowed for use while constructing buildings, which doesn't eliminate the issue of exposure, it only decreases it.

Lastly, do your own due diligence. To find out the building’s construction history, ask your HR department if they have any information. If that doesn’t work, you can always ask building management and they should have access to any and all information regarding the building's date, age, and how it was assembled.

As mentioned, even though asbestos it is not commonly used today, one should still be aware of its possible presence at work, home, and in public places. Remember, your health is top priority in any environment. Asking the right questions at work and keeping these preventative measures in mind have the potential to ensure your safety throughout your career.

Rachel Lynch is the press and media coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

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