What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a silicate mineral ore that consists of long, thin microscopic fibrous crystals that become airborne when disturbed. 

There are 6 types of asbestos in which the EPA has classified as either Amphibole Asbestos or Serpentine Asbestos. Asbestos deposits are found all over the world and are still mined in Russia, China and Kazakhstan. Though Asbsestos is banned in many developed countries, despite the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) of 1986, federal attempts to ban it's use in the United States have been futile, in fact we are still one of the only developed country that allows the use of asbestos in many products. 

The manufacturing of asbestos products began in the mid-19th century beginning in Italy, Scotland, Germany and later in Canada, South Africa and in Staten Island, NY.

Health Affects of Asbestos

There are two types of exposure routes either primary or secondary.

Primary exposure is more common due to occupational exposure working with asbestos products. 

Environmental exposure including living near asbestos manufacturing industries, living/ working in older buildings, schools, superfunds sites and shipyards.

Secondary exposure results from those that work around asbestos products that bring fibers into their homes from fibers that attach to clothes, shoes and hair. Most common risk groups in these cases involve women and children. 

Scientific research has proven that asbestos exposure causes lung related diseases and varies forms of cancer.

The following is a list of diseases:

  • Mesothelioma

  • Asbestos lung cancer

  • Ovarian cancer

  • Laryngeal cancer

  • Asbestosis

  • Pleural effusion, Pleural plaques

  • Pleuritis

  • Diffuse pleural thickening

  • COPD

Versatile uses of  Asbestos

There are over a hundred different types  of products that are made from asbestos. Due to it's high tensile and flexible properties, highly efficient heat, chemical and electrical resistance, asbestos became highly implemented in many products and is still being used around the world due to it's abundance and efficiency. 

Following is an example of some of the products made from asbestos:

  • Chlor Alkali diaphragm membranes used to make chlorine (currently in the USA)

  • Drywall and joint compound (including texture coats)

  • Plaster

  • Gas mask filters pre-1960s and gas mask filters from the USSR

  • Vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives

  • Roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles

  • "Transite" panels, siding, countertops, and pipes

  • Popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic ceilings

  • An asbestos glove

  • Caulk

  • Industrial and marine gaskets

  • Brake pads and shoes

  • Stage curtains

  • Anything for fireproofing

  • Fire blankets

  • Interior fire doors

  • Fireproof clothing for firefighters

  • Thermal pipe insulation

  • Filters for removing fine particulates from chemicals, liquids and wine

  • Dental cast linings

  • HVAC flexible duct connectors

  • Drilling fluid additives

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