There are dangerous chemicals and substances that can make their way through the food chain, such as chlorinated pesticides, herbicides, and mercury. But can asbestos be transmitted between organisms in the same way? Asbestos is a hazardous material that releases airborne microscopic fibers that present a threat to most living creatures, and most are aware of its danger to our respiratory system. However, since the fibers do not break down over time, should we be worried whether asbestos can travel through the food chain as well?
Can We Consume Asbestos Absorbed in the Food Chain?
Since asbestos is naturally occurring and its fibers can be spread throughout the environment from improper demolition, there’s a risk of asbestos accumulating in the lungs and digestive tracts of wildlife. However, while animals and plants can absorb chemicals like mercury or DDT, they do not chemically absorb asbestos. Asbestos fibers get lodged in the body’s tissues, but usually not in muscles or fat fit for human consumption. So, while there is a small risk of ingesting asbestos if you’re consuming tissue such as in the lungs or stomach, there’s only a slight risk of exposure if you’re eating conventional meats.
Is There Any Danger from the Asbestos that May Be Ingested?
Any level of asbestos exposure is dangerous, but the chances of ingesting asbestos through animal products are very low. However, in the rare instance someone consumes food that has been saturated by asbestos fibers, it can lead to damage to the gastrointestinal wall or the urinary tract, potentially leading to bladder cancer. This is, of course, a very rare circumstance. Inhalation of damaged asbestos-containing construction materials and insulation continues to be the greatest risk of exposure. You should be much warier of inhaling the toxic dust than ingesting it via the food chain.
While it’s possible for asbestos to travel through the food chain, the risk of you ingesting it is very slim. The threat you should truly be worried about is disturbed or damaged asbestos-containing products within your home. Whether through renovations, demolitions, or simple wear and tear, these forms of asbestos can become airborne and hazardous to one’s health. If you discover or suspect there is asbestos in your home, we here at Fiber Control, Inc. can safely encapsulate or remove the substance. If you would like to schedule an appointment regarding asbestos or other hazardous materials, be sure to contact us.