Sometimes a classroom isn’t enough. I remember feeling myself dozing off through my humanities and arts classes. The textbook pictures were beautiful, but they were only pictures. I needed to actually see what had happened, see the works of art and the sculptors, and tread the ground that the artists had tread. Travel is one of the best ways to learn about the history of our world. But it can also be dangerous.
Before the 1970’s, many homes and buildings were constructed using a natural mineral called asbestos. Used because of its fire and heat-resistant qualities, asbestos was considered a miracle. That was, until Americans discovered the truth.
When the dry wall and insulation that contain asbestos are disturbed, fibers are released into the air. If inhaled, these fibers can cause a deadly lung cancer.
But asbestos isn’t the only poison that older buildings may contain. Lead can be found in pipes, soil, paints, and even dust. Through swallowing or inhaling lead particles, those that work or live with these sorts of materials are susceptible to poisoning. Lead poisoning may result in loss of memory, damage to reproductive organs, and digestive problems in adults. It can lead to weight loss, developmental damage and hearing loss in children.
Now, by no means does this mean that traveling to historical sites should be off limits. We need history; we need our past if we plan to survive the future. But surviving also means being healthy. To protect yourself, find out more about the dangers of asbestos and lead poisoning. Search the web; ask a doctor; visit a library. With more information, you have a better chance of avoiding asbestos and lead exposure. Then get back out there! History and health are waiting.
A guest post by: Matthew Phillips
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