Asbestos is one of the naturally occurring fibrous minerals and is used for over 150 years for various commercial purposes. Some of its significant features include extreme durability, high resistance to fire, heat and electricity. All these have made it the preferred product in the olden days for different consumer and industrial purposes.
However, the usage of asbestos was drastically reduced, as soon as it was officially declared a “known human carcinogen”. It is known to cause mesothelioma – a deadly and rare cancerous disease. Asbestos can still be found in numerous homes, schools and commercial buildings.
Different types of asbestos
There are six different types of asbestos with discrete features; these are mainly divided into two main categories namely:
- Serpentine asbestos – It refers to long and curly fibres. This category includes only one asbestos known as chrysotile – which was once widely used in all the commercial and industrial purposes before the awareness of pleural mesothelioma.
- Amphibole asbestos – It refers to brittle, needle or rod-like fibres. It has 5 asbestos in this category namely: Amosite, crocidolite or blue asbestos, actinolite, tremolite and anthophyllite. These are extremely hazardous when inhaled or ingested. This category was also least preferred for commercial purposes.
Asbestos does not harm as far as it is left untouched or undisturbed. However, when it is disturbed or broken or agitated, asbestos can become airborne and can pose serious dangers. Hence, it is extremely important to take all the safety measures to remove asbestos.
As per the law, it is best to hire a professional for asbestos removal. It is important to inform government state agency about the abatement process.
In case of finding asbestos, in any construction area or maintenance area, you should immediately inform the asbestos work team. Meanwhile, keep the area damp to make sure that it does not become airborne. Deciding to perform the abatement work all by yourself can be against the law and can put you behind the bars.
For individuals or professionals performing asbestos work, employers should ensure their safety, by providing proper work gear with air-purifying respirators.
Some of the products which are known to historically contain asbestos are Ceiling tiles, Floor tiles, wall panels, Asbestos Cement, Electrical insulation, Boiler insulation, Spray-on fireproofing, wall and attic insulation, Wallboard joint compound, millboard and Asbestos paper.
During the maintenance or before starting a renovation project – if you suspect the presence of asbestos – stay away from it and do not allow children anywhere close to the area. It is also advised to avoid activities like cutting, sanding, sawing, scraping or drilling. This may disturb concealed asbestos and may cause life-threatening dangers.
Asbestos exposure risks
If the asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can easily get into soft tissues of lungs, heart or abdomen. The body becomes incapable to push out these fibres, which can, in turn, result in dangerous diseases including cancer.
Asbestos is known to cause lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. Studies have shown that almost 10,000 asbestos-related deaths happen in the US every year.
Be vigilant and stay safe!