Until 20 years ago most of hadn’t even heard of Asbestos until its hazardous properties were highly publicized in the mid-1980s. The substance we know as asbestos is a combination of six silicate minerals. Asbestos is used commercially for its “wonderful” physical properties, which were perfect for insulation and fire retardant coating. This set of minerals is also used in concrete, bricks, fireplace cement, heating, acid resistant gaskets, fire-proofing drywalls, roofing, lawn furniture, flooring, drywall joint compounds, as well as insulation in pipes, electronics, and ceilings. Asbestos is also used prominently in various industries related to ship building.
Where can you get Asbestos From?
Asbestos is quite ubiquitous.It is found in fiber cement boards, packaging materials, and mechanical parts in motor vehicles such as brakes and clutch linings. It is found in houses and residential buildings, schools, churches and other places of worship, malls, and other public structures.
Despite its wide usage in modern industries, studies have shown that exposure to asbestos can be extremely harmful to human health even fatal. Inhalation of asbestos fibers has been known to cause grave illnesses such as terminal lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. There are minute traces of asbestos in the ambient air, and these traces are generally safe for people to inhale. However, long and constant exposure to large amounts will surely cause serious health problems. Because of the health hazards involved with exposure to asbestos, members of the European Union have banned all uses of the mineral, as well as its extraction, mining, and processing, including the manufacture of any product with asbestos as an ingredient.
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Of the minerals that make up asbestos, amosite and crocidolite are the most dangerous to human health.They stay in the lungs of people exposed to asbestos materials for longer periods of time. Chrysotile asbestos-another form of asbestos,has produced tumors in both animals and humans. This form of asbestos also produces mesotheliomas in people who are constantly exposed to it because of their occupations, as well as people who reside near asbestos mines and factories.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that plagues the protecting lining of the majority of the human body’s internal organs, which is called the mesothelium. Because the main cause of this cancer is asbestos inhalation, the most common site of mesothelioma is the pleura, the outer lining of the lungs and the internal chest wall. There are also recorded cases of cancer in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum), the sac surrounding the heart (pericardium), and even the sac surrounding the testis (tunica vaginalis).
Aside from several forms of cancer, exposure to asbestos can also cause asbestos warts, diffuse pleural thickening, and pleural plaques. Asbestos warts appear when sharp asbestos fibers are lodged in the skin, which will then cause callus-like growths that are usually benign. Pleural plaques, on the other hand, are fibrous or slightly calcified and thickened areas that might lead to diffuse pleural thickening which in turn might cause lung impairment.
Asbestos can be highly hazardous to one’s health, and anything manufactured with this material should be avoided especially if you have an older home where you wish to raise young children.