They say that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. However, it seems that in the case of asbestos, the meat and poison are rolled into one for the man, woman or child for that matter. Just think about it. You opt for having asbestos based sheets, wrapping or chunks used as insulation on the basis of cost-effectiveness and convenience but then it becomes the bane of your existence. In many cases, it is not even in your knowledge whether you are being exposed to asbestos fibers or dust particles. You may simply be a laborer at some old building site trying to bring it down or renovate it or a worker at some industrial plant, shipyard or even a military installation. On top of that, you don't even find out whether you have been inhaled lethal amounts of asbestos until some 20 to 50 years down the line when the symptoms of the dreaded mesothelioma start showing. Though causes of mesothelioma included naturally occurring minerals such as zeolites, high doses of radiation such as x-rays or thorium dioxide injections using during such procedures and even a genetic predisposition, the number one culprit remains asbestos exposure. In a Detroit community that I grew up in, there were many families whose members were working full-time shifts in the various auto-manufacturing plants dotting the city. A large number of them had been exposed to microscopic asbestos particles that had been released from not only the insulation material used in the factories but the actual automotive parts that they were making, such as brake pads. More often than not, the workers who were getting exposed to asbestos during the 1950s and the 1960s only found out about their cancerous affliction into the 80s and the 90s, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, chronic pain in the lung or abdomen area, unexplained weight loss and obstruction bowel movements. It was only in some cases that the asbestos victims were able to detect the onset of mesothelioma that is when they went in for a chest x-ray for an unrelated condition such as a rib fracture or spinal column complications. Such scans revealed the tell tale signs of some anomalies around the lung area and the wall of the abdominal cavity, such as scaring of the pleural membrane. This in its advanced state causes shortness of breath by restricting the expansion and contraction of the lungs. Simply said, asbestos particles are like free floating agents of death that wreak havoc wherever they end up inside the victim’s body. Whether they are inhaled via the nose and mouth, being swallowed through the esophagus in the latter case whereby ending the stomach or intestines, asbestos motes get themselves lodged in human tissue and set up shop. It is imperative that all precautionary measures possible are employed when working in sites with potential asbestos materials, such as half or full-face respirators and protective clothing and headgear that is either disposed of or thoroughly cleaned after use. European countries have already stopped the mining and processing of asbestos and unless and until a similar blanket ban is imposed in the US, it is up to you safeguard yourself and those around you against asbestos exposure.