During most of the 20th century, a substance known as asbestos was widely used in a variety of industries and products. This mineral fiber had actually been utilized for centuries, but its high heat resistance and tensile strength made it quite popular as the industrial world developed. The construction and shipbuilding industries, for example, were able to make extensive use of asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring, fibrous minerals. These minerals can be mined in hundreds of countries worldwide, making them easily attainable and relatively inexpensive. Overall, there are six main groups of asbestos, each of which possesses a set of unique physical characteristics:
- Actinolite – flat, long fibers
- Amosite – brown, straight, brittle fibers
- Anthophyllite – brittle, white fibers
- Chrysotile – curly, white fibers
- Crocidolite – blue, straight fibers
- Tremolite – white, chalky fibers
Asbestos minerals also tend to have high heat resistivity, high tensile strength, and low conductivity. This makes them ideal for heat retardant products and insulation.
Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos are thin, fibrous substances that can easily break apart into miniscule fibers. When they are disturbed, these loose fibers can become airborne and unknowingly inhaled by nearby persons. Over time, the amount of asbestos in the body can build up. This creates dangerous scarring that can lead to the development of serious diseases, including cancer.
Those who have worked for years in industries in which asbestos were used were heavily exposed to dangerous fibers. Because of this, these people are at the highest risk of developing dangerous asbestos-related diseases. Those who were involved in construction, shipbuilding, metalworking, and mining prior to the establishment of asbestos regulation laws have seen the largest levels of exposure.
Unfortunately, as early as the 1920s and 30s, it became obvious that asbestos also posed serious health risks. These devastating effects vastly outweighed the benefits of asbestos use, and by the later 1970’s, this mineral was significantly removed from industrial processes. By this time, however, millions of people had already been overexposed to asbestos and were all at risk of succumbing to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other tragic illnesses.
Today, we know that asbestos exposure may cause many serious health problems. These include the following conditions:
To learn more about the dangers and risk factors associated with each condition, click on the above hyperlinks.
- Asbestos Laws and Regulations
- Asbestos Litigation
- Asbests Removal Safety
- Asbestos Use in the United States
- Asbestos Worldwide
- Asbestos-Like Substances
- History of Asbestos
- Asbestos Dangers
- Asbestos Abatement
- Asbestos Removal
- Military Veterans and Asbestos Exposure
- An Overview of Asbestos
- Asbestos is still in use and still a threat
- Workers at risk from asbestos
- Asbestos litigation & the FAIR legislation
- Warning signs of asbestos-related diseases
- Asbestos in Toys and Other Household Products
- Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Settlements Department
- Definitions of terms used for asbestos-related diseases & their treatment