Asbestos is a mineral that is naturally strong and durable — but it is also very dangerous. Through much of the 20th century, asbestos was used to make buildings, ships, cement, and many other materials. However, asbestos was soon linked to serious health issues like mesothelioma. Asbestos companies hid the truth from workers and consumers.
What Is Asbestos?
For the last several decades, more and more studies, data, and reports continue to link asbestos to health issues in humans. This includes different forms of incurable cancer.
- A naturally occurring mineral
- Incredibly light and durable
- Made out of microscopic fibers that bundle together
- Resistant to heat, electricity, and water damage
- Found in serpentine and mafic rock deposits across the globe
Because it is so abundant and light, it can be mined at a very low cost. Once it is mined, asbestos can be developed into valuable products for different industries. Asbestos-containing products are used in construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing industries around the world.
The Deadly Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos has many good properties and was once hailed as a “miracle mineral.” However, it has also been linked to diseases like cancer.
The sad reality is asbestos companies knew that their products could cause cancer. Even worse, they did nothing to warn workers or consumers. Decades later, people who were exposed to asbestos are now developing cancer and other health issues.
Asbestos-Related Deaths in the United States
There were 230,000 asbestos-related deaths between 1979-2001 from diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other types of cancer.
As a result, the U.S. government ordered asbestos companies to establish trust funds for asbestos victims. For several decades, they have also encouraged manufacturers not to use asbestos-based products, though asbestos remains legal for some uses to this day.
Diseases Caused by Asbestos
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos, there is an increased risk of terminal illness later in life. When asbestos fibers enter the body, they make their way to major organs like the lungs, heart, and chest cavity.
Since asbestos fibers cannot be broken down, they irritate the affected areas for decades. Long-term irritation leads to scarring, fluid buildup, and the development of cancer in some cases.
Common asbestos diseases include:
- Asbestosis: Asbestosis occurs when asbestos fibers get stuck in the lungs. As scar tissue and fluids build up in the lung, it gets stiffer. This makes it hard for the affected person to breathe. Symptoms of asbestosis include a constant cough and shortness of breath.
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. It occurs when asbestos fibers get stuck in the linings of lungs, abdomen, or heart. As the damage worsens, cells begin to mutate and form cancerous tumors. Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where it develops.
- Lung Cancer: Asbestos-related lung cancer is rare, but it can also occur as a result of exposure to asbestos. Unlike mesothelioma, lung cancer develops in the lung itself. Lung cancer symptoms are marked by a bloody cough, chest pain, and sudden weight loss.
There are no cures for either asbestosis or mesothelioma. However, they can be managed with treatment if they are caught early on by doctors.
While asbestosis is dangerous, mesothelioma presents more serious challenges. The symptoms of mesothelioma can often seem vague at first. As a result, many people are not diagnosed until the cancer has spread to other areas in the body. This can greatly reduce a person’s survival time.
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The use of asbestos dates back to Ancient Egypt. In modern history, asbestos has been used for over 100 years. Starting in the late 1800s, it was commercially mined. By the 1930s, asbestos had become a key material for the construction and shipbuilding industries. Due to its number of seemingly useful applications, it would be widely used until the 1980s.
Properties of asbestos include:
- Insulation: Asbestos is resistant to fire, electricity, and water. It also is a natural soundproofing material. This makes it useful as an insulator for electrical wires, pipes, and walls, among other things.
- Abundance: Asbestos is found around the world, including countries such as the U.S., Canada, China, and South Africa. This abundance makes asbestos cheap to mine and sell. Given its uses and prevalence, asbestos became a billion-dollar industry.
- Fibrous: Asbestos is made up of thousands of tiny fibers. These fibers make asbestos lightweight. While this makes asbestos helpful for building and insulation, it can also cause problems. If asbestos is disturbed, its fibers can dislodge and become airborne. This makes the fibers easy for people to ingest or inhale.
- Durability: When asbestos-containing products were first manufactured, they were hailed for their strength and ability to resist heat, electricity, and flame. Asbestos fibers interlock and become nearly impossible to destroy. However, because these microscopic fibers are so tough, they will not easily leave your body if they are inhaled or swallowed.
Types of Asbestos
Currently, researchers have identified 6 types of asbestos, all of which are now known to be dangerous.
The 6 types of asbestos are:
- Actinolite: Actinolite asbestos was used in drywall, paint, and other materials. In its natural state, it exists in a few different colors such as green, gray, and black.
- Amosite: Also known as “brown asbestos,” amosite asbestos was frequently used to make buildings. It is the second-most commonly used type of asbestos in the U.S.
- Anthophyllite: Anthophyllite asbestos is the rarest form of the mineral. As a result, it was only used occasionally in products like cement.
- Chrysotile: Chrysotile asbestos is the most common form of the mineral. It is made up of long, curly fibers. It is also known as “white asbestos.”
- Crocidolite: Crocidolite was used in products like cement and insulators. However, it isn’t as heat-resistant as other asbestos formations. It is also known as “blue asbestos.”
- Tremolite: Tremolite was used in consumer products like paint and talcum powder. It was known for its heat-resistant properties. Today, tremolite is no longer mined.
These types fall under 2 mineral families: the amphibole and the serpentine. Only chrysotile asbestos belongs to the serpentine family. All the rest belong to the amphibole family.
Amosite and crocidolite asbestos are considered to be more dangerous than the other types of asbestos. The fibers in these types are fine, sharp, and brittle. Thus, they easily become airborne when disturbed. Crocidolite is the most dangerous, but fortunately, it was not used often.
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Occupations That Used Asbestos
The industries that used asbestos expanded as companies found new uses for the mineral. Huge industries developed around those who manufactured, refined, and sold asbestos-based products. However, these companies also knew that asbestos fibers could cause long-term health problems.
Though those in charge of asbestos companies knew the risks, they did not tell the public or the U.S. government. It was not until the 1970s that the dangers of asbestos became well known. By that point, thousands of people had already been exposed to asbestos.
Given the wide use of asbestos across dozens of industries, thousands of people were needlessly put at risk.
Occupations and industries that exposed people to asbestos include:
- Aerospace: Aircraft mechanics were exposed to asbestos contained in brakes, brake linings, sealing gaskets, and insulation.
- Automotive: Asbestos was used in auto parts subject to friction such as brakes, clutches, and gaskets.
- Construction: Asbestos was used in thousands of construction materials, putting workers who handled them at risk. Certain types of cement, roofing, plaster, wallboard, paint, and other products often used asbestos.
- Homemaking: The homes of asbestos workers may have been hotbeds for exposure, too. Wives of asbestos workers may have been exposed to the material from washing the dusty clothing of their husbands. Children who hugged their fathers upon returning from work were also exposed to asbestos.
- Manufacturing: Workers in plants where asbestos products were created are at a high risk of illness later on. Cement plants, steel mills, textile mills, and many other manufacturing plants may have put employees in danger.
- Metal Working: In the metal industry, protective clothing and work areas often used asbestos because it resisted heat and fire.
- Military: Military veterans are one of the largest groups affected by asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used extensively in shipbuilding from World War II until the late 1970s. It was also used in vehicles, military bases, and equipment.
- Railroad: Asbestos was used to insulate locomotives. It was also used in brake and clutch linings.
- Shipbuilding: Asbestos-based products were widely used aboard ships. Boilers, incinerators, hot water pipes, and steam pipes are just a few dangerous products. Asbestos was also used to soundproof rooms and protect engine rooms from heat.
Asbestos Exposure Sites
Even if you didn’t work directly in the asbestos industry, you could still be at risk. For example, some children and young adults have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in rare cases. Obviously, they did not work in an asbestos trade for decades. They could have been exposed if their houses or schools were made with asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos exposure sites that put individuals at risk include:
- Boiler rooms
- Construction sites
- Garages/auto repair sites
- Home renovation sites
- Older schools and homes built before the 1980s
- Power companies
- Utility companies
Due to the widespread use of asbestos, there are many other potential exposure sites that are not widely known. An asbestos attorney can help determine where you may have been exposed.
Asbestos Exposure Help
If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and now has concerning symptoms, do not wait. See a doctor immediately and tell them about your asbestos history. They can determine if your symptoms are due to an asbestos-related disease.
Catching and treating asbestos-related diseases before they spread is the best way to extend your life.
You can also seek legal help from an asbestos law firm. Legal action is very important. By filing an asbestos claim, you can get access to funds that can pay for your medical treatments.
Remember, if you worked for a company that used asbestos, they may be responsible if you got sick.
Sometimes, veterans are concerned that if they file a lawsuit, they may be taking action against the military. Fortunately, this is not true. Asbestos lawsuits are filed against the companies responsible for making asbestos-containing products. No branch of the military will be sued. Additionally, U.S. veterans may be entitled to disability through the VA.
If you have any questions about asbestos diseases or how you might have been exposed, reach out today for a free case review.
Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral that was for many years used in an array of products due to the mineral’s natural fire-resistance properties. It is, however, very dangerous unless it is handled properly by a licensed asbestos specialist.
Breathing in stray asbestos fibers after they have been disturbed can lead to several fatal diseases, including asbestos-caused lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
Are asbestos tiles dangerous?
Though asbestos can be found in certain types of flooring and roofing tiles, it is commonly considered to be safe as long as it remains in good condition. If, however, these tiles are damaged, destroyed, or disturbed (cracked, torn apart, or broken, etc.), they can become dangerous and pose a major health risk to people. Disturbed tiles can cause loose asbestos fibers to become airborne, which is when such asbestos poses its greatest risk.
Because some asbestos-based products are easily friable, vinyl products and the like become dangerous when they are damaged and the asbestos fibers become airborne. Once airborne, the fibers may be inadvertently breathed in and lead to mesothelioma and other diseases.
Typically, tile products that contain asbestos are considered to be non-friable.
Are asbestos shingles safe?
Asbestos shingles are on the exterior of your home, and as long as they are kept in good condition and are not destroyed or damaged, they do not typically pose a serious health threat. The presence of asbestos in a home, apartment, or building is not necessarily hazardous in and of itself.
Rather, the threat to safety arises when asbestos-based materials and products get disturbed and microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne.
Airborne asbestos fibers can enter the body and accumulate within the lungs, stomach, or heart, which can cause diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma – the latter of which is a fatal cancer. Damaged shingles must be removed immediately by a licensed professional.
When did asbestos get banned in the UK?
Two separate bans of asbestos occurred in the United Kingdom. First, in 1985, both amosite and crocidolite forms of asbestos were banned.
Fourteen years later, on August 24th, 1999, the U.K. banned chrysotile asbestos—a ban which came a mere month after the European Union (EU) called for a ban on chrysotile asbestos.
Deputy Prime Minister John Leslie Prescott signed The Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations, five years ahead of the proposed European deadline.
What is an asbestos do-it-yourself test kit?
Though it is recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to test for the presence of asbestos with the help of a certified professional using special equipment, so-called do-it-yourself asbestos kits are another often cheaper option.
Such a kit involves running a chemical test for the identification of asbestos. The results of the home testing kit can help a homeowner or a building manager determine if there is a serious asbestos problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
For removal, it is recommended that a certified contractor be hired to remove asbestos-based materials from a home or building.
What do asbestos walls look like?
Both external and internal house and building walls can be created by using asbestos materials, such as siding or cladding. Asbestos cement sheets were also commonly used for outdoor building walls like those in sheds and garages.
Because of asbestos’s naturally fibrous appearance, walls containing asbestos may appear white and stringy in composition, especially when they have been damaged, chipped, or disturbed.
Asbestos walls vary in appearance, though such walls can be identified due to distinctive connections between panels. Some cement wall sheets were stamped with asbestos identification marks during their production, but this practice was not common.
Does asbestos make you itch?
According to some state health officials around the United States, exposure to asbestos will not cause skin or throat itchiness or irritation. Likewise, asbestos will not cause a person to cough or sneeze, unless the asbestos dust is produced in vast quantities.
What do I do if I have asbestos in my house?
Asbestos is a carcinogen that can prove lethal if it is disturbed and its tiny fibers are released into the air. In homes built before 1975, asbestos was commonly used in many household materials, including insulation, but also:
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Window caulking and glazing
- Roofing materials
- HVAC duct insulation
- Siding material
- Some forms of paint
The mere presence of asbestos in your home is not necessarily hazardous. Generally speaking, materials containing asbestos that are kept in good condition will not pose a major health risk.
When asbestos is in the home, leave it alone, and do not damage or destroy it; this is when it becomes a major health-risk factor.
If you are worried about asbestos exposure in your house, the best course of action is to contact a certified asbestos abatement contractor who will help remove asbestos products from your house.
How is asbestos made?
Asbestos is a mineral that occurs in nature. It is not made by humans; rather, the mineral is mined. Asbestos was used in the manufacturing processes of many industrial products throughout the twentieth century due its natural strength, fireproofing qualities, and stringy, fibrous nature.
Is asbestos a hazardous waste?
Regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hazardous wastes are typically controlled and addressed by certain standards imposed by the government agency. By EPA definition, a hazardous waste is any waste that can be dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous waste exists in all states of matter—liquid, solid, and gas.
Asbestos is a hazardous waste because it is carcinogenic and poses a threat to human health and safety.
Is asbestos still used in brakes?
Generally speaking, asbestos is not still used in the production of new brakes, brake pads, and clutches. For many years, however, it was used as a fundamental component of brake pads and linings, as well as clutch facings and gaskets.
To this day, brakes and clutches on millions of cars, trucks, buses, and semi-trailers still contain high levels of asbestos in accordance with their time of production.
Is asbestos natural?
Asbestos is made from naturally-occurring fibrous minerals found in rocks and soil. Industrial-scale mining of these minerals began in Quebec, Canada in the 1880s. Canada remained the leading producer until 2011. When asbestos was used commercially, the material was known as a “miracle mineral” for properties that proved useful in construction and fireproofing, such as heat resistance, durability, and sound absorption.
Is asbestos poisonous?
Asbestos becomes poisonous when its fibers dislodge from asbestos-containing materials and separate into microscopic pieces. These pieces, when released into the air, are small enough to be breathed into the lungs. Over time, they can then build up and become hazardous to health.
If the fibers are inhaled over long periods of time and continue to line the walls of the lungs, heart, or abdomen, it can increase the risk of diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Is asbestos still used in the United States?
Asbestos has been banned in many countries throughout the world — but asbestos is still not entirely banned in the United States. Some asbestos-containing materials have been prohibited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but other forms of asbestos are used in the U.S. for certain purposes.
Asbestos can still be used in the manufacture and processing of, for example:
- Pipeline wrap
- Vinyl floor tile
- Roof coatings
Was asbestos used in popcorn ceilings?
Textured ceiling paint – also known as popcorn ceiling – can contain asbestos. Asbestos was used in the construction of homes built between the late 1930s through the 1990s (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned asbestos use in textured ceiling paint in 1978, but manufacturers were allowed to deplete any existing inventory).
Not all popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. The best way to find out whether your home’s ceilings were built with asbestos is to have a sample tested by a professional.
What does asbestos insulation look like?
Asbestos is a mineral made up of microscopic fibers or strands. In commercial settings, such as insulation, asbestos appears as a thick, grayish fuzz. However, asbestos is often invisible to the naked eye — either when airborne or contained in other materials, such as ceiling tiles or clothing.
When is asbestos dangerous?
In general, asbestos is considered harmless when contained securely inside a material, such as those used in construction. However, asbestos can become dangerous when an asbestos-containing material is damaged or disturbed and its microscopic fibers are released into the air.
In this case, airborne asbestos can enter the body and, in many cases, pass into the lungs or digestive tract. When trapped inside the body, asbestos can cause dangerous health problems such as mesothelioma, which is a lethal cancer.
Where is asbestos commonly found?
Asbestos can be found inside or outside any residential or commercial building built before the year 2000. The mineral can still be found in millions of American homes today.
Common parts of a building that may contain asbestos include:
- Floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement shingles
- Soundproofing applications
- Paint or plaster
- Casing for electrical wires
Homes should be inspected by a professional to identify asbestos-containing products.
Who removes asbestos?
If asbestos is found inside a product or building, an accredited professional may determine that the product is likely to deteriorate or be disturbed. In this case, it is important that the asbestos is handled and removed safely.
If it is mishandled or not removed in a timely manner, asbestos can cause health concerns such as mesothelioma.
Government health and environmental agencies strongly recommend hiring a licensed asbestos removal contractor to assess what is required for removal and to then perform proper, safe removal and disposal.
Who discovered asbestos?
Asbestos use dates back to Ancient Egypt (at least 4,500 years), with specific uses developing throughout history. Its toxicity was first discovered by German doctors in the 1930s, when they reported evidence of asbestos-related cancer. Doctors finally made firm conclusions that asbestos causes diseases such as mesothelioma in the 1960s.
Why was asbestos used in homes?
Asbestos was used in homes built between the 1930s and the 1990s. It was highly favored in commercial construction for its protective chemical and physical properties – such as thermal stability, durability, electrical resistance, and flexibility – as well as its affordability.
At the time, it was deemed safe, until exposure to asbestos was later found to increase risks of diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Are asbestos roofs dangerous?
Roofs of buildings built between the late 1930s through the 1990s likely contain asbestos. During this time, it was believed that asbestos use was safe and highly useful because of its fireproof properties.
However, asbestos was later confirmed to be dangerous if consumed, as the mineral can build up in the lungs and cause life-threatening conditions such as mesothelioma. Asbestos roofs are harmless if they remain intact, but they’re a concern if they are damaged or disturbed in any way.
Where did asbestos come from?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that can be found in large deposits within rocks and soil worldwide. The first commercial use of asbestos was located in Quebec, Canada in the 19th century, but asbestos use dates back at least 4,500 years. Archaeologists have even found asbestos fibers in debris from the Stone Age.
What do asbestos fibers look like?
When asbestos fibers are tightly clustered, they have a light, fuzzy appearance. After processing, asbestos looks similar to silk or shiny synthetic material.
Because they can be virtually identical to fiberglass, asbestos fibers are difficult to identify visually. The individual fibers themselves are also invisible to the naked eye, and when contained within finished products are impossible to identify without professional inspection.
Does asbestos stay in the air?
Asbestos fibers can be released into the air when materials that contain asbestos are damaged, disturbed, or moved unsafely. Because they are so small, cannot evaporate into the air, and do not break down over time, the fibers may stay suspended in the air for hours, if not days.
How is asbestos removed?
Homeowners should never try to remove asbestos on their own. Government health and environmental agencies strongly recommend hiring highly-trained professionals with specialized safety equipment to identify and remove asbestos.
Because asbestos can be an extremely harmful substance, it’s important to handle, remove, and dispose of asbestos-containing products with care.
How does asbestos kill?
Asbestos is a known carcinogen, most commonly associated with mesothelioma, but also linked to other diseases. Mesothelioma is a cancer which attacks organs, including the lungs and heart.
In advanced stages, mesothelioma can cause organ failure and death. The cancer can metastasize, or spread, beyond the lungs and attack the brain, liver, or bones.
Asbestos-related diseases result in many symptoms and complications, so there is no single cause of death associated with asbestos.
Is asbestos illegal in the United States?
Asbestos is not illegal in the United States. Specific products with asbestos have been banned, but there are still many legal uses.
Asbestos is legally used in products including: roofing and plumbing materials, cement sheeting and pipe, automotive components, floor tiles, and clothing.
Asbestos is regulated by the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In 1989, a rule issued in the TSCA banned most asbestos products, but the rule was overturned in 1991. The result is that relatively few products containing asbestos are illegal in the United States.
Is asbestos in concrete?
Asbestos was commonly used in concrete roofing, flooring, and insulation. There are hundreds of concrete insulation products which contain asbestos. Asbestos cement, sometimes referred to as “transite,” was frequently used for water and sewage pipes from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Another compound, called soft concrete, was used in roofing because it was strong and lightweight. A majority of the asbestos mined worldwide is used in concrete products.
Should asbestos be removed?
The condition of materials containing asbestos should be considered carefully before removal. If asbestos removal is not done properly, risk of exposure can be increased. Undamaged materials are unlikely to release dangerous asbestos fibers, and should be left alone.
In the case of materials which are slightly damaged, it may be best to simply avoid that area. If asbestos-containing materials are in poor condition, they should be dealt with only by qualified professionals.
Even minor damage should be assessed and repaired by accredited inspectors and contractors. Materials with asbestos should not be dusted, swept, sanded, scraped, or otherwise disturbed. Home remodeling or major repair may require asbestos removal.
Where should asbestos be disposed of?
It is illegal to dispose of asbestos products in domestic waste bins. Asbestos waste must be kept wetted down and sealed in leak-tight containers and labeled before transport to a landfill. Materials containing more than 1 percent asbestos cannot be crushed or incinerated. Not all landfill sites can legally accept asbestos waste, so the landfill operator should be contacted prior to removal.
Transportation of asbestos waste must be documented with a waste shipment record (WSR). The WSR must be signed by the people disposing of, transporting, and receiving the waste.
In some states, notice must be sent to a government agency before removal. Regulation of asbestos waste removal, transport, and disposal differs from state to state, so local authorities should be consulted.
Was asbestos used in insulation?
Asbestos may be present in vermiculite insulation. Most of the U.S. vermiculite came from a mine in Libby, Montana, which was contaminated by asbestos. This vermiculite was often sold under the brand name Zonolite. Asbestos is most likely in houses that were insulated between the late 1920s and late 1980s.
Not all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that homeowners with vermiculite act under the assumption that it is contaminated with asbestos, and take the necessary precautions.
When did asbestos stop being used?
Asbestos is still used in a variety of materials and products worldwide. In the United States, particular uses of asbestos are outlawed under regulations issued by a number of agencies.
Through the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned spray-applied asbestos surface insulation in 1973, and then plumbing and component insulation in 1975. In 1978 any spray-applied asbestos not covered by these measures was also banned.
A 1989 EPA ban against most uses of asbestos was overturned in 1991, resulting in numerous legal uses of asbestos today. Asbestos is banned (with limited exceptions) in over 50 countries. The EU banned all new use of asbestos in 2005, adding to existing bans on most other uses.
When was asbestos used in homes?
Asbestos was used to insulate homes as late as 1990, and some construction materials and appliance components are still manufactured with asbestos today. In the U.S., asbestos is still legal in vinyl flooring, roof shingles and coatings, and other materials.
Asbestos insulation for water heaters and other plumbing parts was not outlawed until the 1980s. Pipes laid prior to 1972 may contain asbestos, as well as textured ceilings predating 1978. Vermiculite insulation, which was widely used from the 1920s to the late 1980s, is often contaminated with asbestos.
Where is asbestos found in the home?
Asbestos was used to insulate and fireproof a variety of materials and appliances in the home. Some places where asbestos can be found, especially in older homes, are:
- Vermiculite insulation
- Furnace gaskets and insulation
- Hot water heater insulation
- Pipe wrap and insulation
- Electrical panels
- Roof tiles
- Stucco and ceiling coating
- Flooring felt, adhesives, and vinyl floor tiles
- Stove pads and sheeting
Where does asbestos waste go?
Asbestos waste goes to designated landfills. Materials containing more than 1 percent asbestos are considered hazardous waste if they can be crumbled using hand pressure when dry. Asbestos waste is regulated as an airborne hazard under federal law.
If a landfill compacts the waste, they must cover any asbestos with six inches of non-waste material before compacting. Asbestos waste must be kept wetted and bagged in at least 6mm of plastic. Asbestos fibers can be safely degraded using thermal and chemical processes, and even recycled into stoneware and ceramic materials.
Which asbestos is the most dangerous?
There are six types of asbestos, all of which are carcinogens. Crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos, is the most hazardous. Blue asbestos is harder and more brittle than other kinds, making it more likely to release dangerous airborne fibers.
However, Crocidolite makes up a small percentage of asbestos used in the United States. Chrysotile asbestos was the most commonly used, and thus accounts for most cases of asbestos-related health problems.
Which type of asbestos is mined in Canada?
Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos, is the primary form of asbestos mined in Canada. Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos, and the only type that is mined on a large scale.
Why is asbestos bad?
Asbestos, once airborne, causes a number of serious health problems. Asbestos is cited by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a known carcinogen, which means it is a risk factor for cancer, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. When breathed in, asbestos fibers irritate and scar the lungs, leading to asbestosis. Asbestosis is a progressive disease which makes breathing difficult.
Other associated lung conditions, like pleural plaques and thickening are less serious, but may still impair the lungs. Smoking has been shown to increase the health risks of asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers can also irritate the skin, causing benign growths.
Why was asbestos used?
Asbestos has a number of attractive properties for construction and manufacturing. It is plentiful and occurs naturally. It is fireproof, resistant to heat and many chemicals, does not conduct electricity, and is lightweight and strong. Asbestos can be used in a wide variety of products, including cement, plastics, paper, fabric, coatings, and adhesives.
Asbestos use dates back to ancient Egypt and has been used in products for thousands of years, but it became widespread during the industrial era, when it was used to fireproof, insulate, and strengthen materials.
Why was asbestos so popular?
Asbestos was popular for its following properties:
- Resistance to heat
- Resistance to many chemicals
- Does not conduct electricity
Why is asbestos banned?
Asbestos is banned in many countries throughout the world, though not in the United States. Asbestos bans were passed because of evidence that asbestos causes a number of adverse health effects and health problems, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other lung diseases. Modern medical professionals documented asbestos-related health problems as early as the turn of the 20th century.