This narrative review aims to determine if asbestos-containing materials in buildings pose a hazard to building occupants in non-occupational settings. This paper is limited to the post-construction and pre-demolition stages of a building. The researchers selected 19 studies from the 126 studies screened, concerning exposure to asbestos fibers in non-occupational building settings, with a focus on post-construction and pre-demolition phases. The literature review found that certain conditions, such as the measurement techniques, standards, and previous data availability, prevent a conclusive answer to the research question. Some studies have pointed towards an effect of asbestos-containing materials on health of occupants in non-occupational settings. But, there are some that do not suggest a positive relationship between non-occupational exposure and the presence of asbestos-containing materials, and therefore these provide scope for further research, as these studies also do not rule out the relationship completely. The present study highlights the gaps in current knowledge and indicates areas for further research. Until conclusive evidence based on revised threshold standards and accurate measurement techniques is available, asbestos-containing materials may be considered unsafe for use in non-occupational settings, especially ones that young people and children occupy.
Introduction & Background
Asbestos is a mined mineral composed of long, thin fibres that are heat-resistant and have been used by humans in a variety of commercial and industrial applications, such as insulation, fire-proofing, and cement composite products. It has found extensive use in the building and construction industry. This cheap and useful material may have good fire resistance properties and may act as a good insulator, but it is, in fact, a toxic material for humans. Millions of lives across the world have been taken due to asbestos and its effect on human health. In mining, processing, manufacturing, installation, demolition, and disposal, asbestos fibers are released into the air. In the absence of protection, which is more often than not, rarely provided, the asbestos fibers enter the lungs and cause either non-malignant diseases like asbestosis, pleural effusions, etc., or malignant conditions like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other forms of cancer. A damaged lung can also lead to further complications.
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