Being exposed to asbestos is by far the biggest risk factor for mesothelioma, so the best way to reduce your risk is to limit your exposure to asbestos at home, in public buildings, and at work.
People who might be exposed to high levels of asbestos at work include some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive workers, ship builders, gas mask manufacturers, plumbers, and construction workers. If there is a chance of on-the-job exposure, such as during the renovation of old buildings, you should use all protective equipment and safety procedures designed for working around asbestos.
Older homes may have insulation containing asbestos or other materials. A knowledgeable expert can check your home to find out if there is any asbestos and whether it poses any risk of exposure. This may mean testing the air for asbestos levels. Just because asbestos exists in a home does not necessarily mean that it needs to be removed. As long as the material is not damaged or disturbed, for example by drilling or remodeling, the fibers will not be released into the air. If asbestos needs to be removed from your home, you should hire a qualified contractor to do this to avoid contaminating your home or causing any exposure to your family or to the workers. You should not attempt to remove asbestos-containing material yourself.
Asbestos can also be found in some commercial and public buildings (including some schools), where the same basic principles apply. Intact, undisturbed materials containing asbestos generally do not pose a health risk. They may pose a risk if they are damaged, are disturbed in some way, or deteriorate over time and release asbestos fibers into the air. By federal law, all schools are required to inspect materials with asbestos regularly and to have a plan in place for managing them.
Last Revised: 02/17/2016