What is Asbestos?
Most people have heard of asbestos and know that it is a dangerous substance, but more detailed information about it is less widespread. Asbestos is a flame-resistant, naturally occurring mineral that people have been using in a variety of ways for thousands of years. Its name is actually derived from a Greek word meaning “inextinguishable.” Asbestos’s durability is the main reason for its former popularity, although its dangers have been shown to far outweigh its benefits.
The Hazards of Asbestos
Asbestos is composed of many long, thin crystalline fibers. Its danger lies in the fact that these fibers can break apart and become airborne whenever asbestos is handled or otherwise disturbed. Some of these fragments may be too small to detect without modern technology, which means people can be in danger of inhaling them without even knowing it.
Although very small, these fibers are strong, sharp, and very harmful to human tissue. When inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs, causing irritation that may eventually develop into much more serious health concerns. Victims of asbestos exposure may develop a chronic lung condition known as asbestosis, or malignant cancers such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Uses of Asbestos
Asbestos’s versatility and ability to withstand fire, chemicals, and weathering has made it popular for many different uses over the years. Just a few examples from the history of asbestos use include:
- The creation of clothing, tablecloths, and other textiles
- Insulation in buildings
- Mechanical parts, including brake pads and clutch discs
- Cigarette filters
- The lining of pipes and engine parts
Asbestos’s link to deadly lung disease was observed by some researchers for many years, dating back to Pliny the Elder of ancient Greece. Tragically, such evidence was overwhelmingly ignored until the 1970’s, when US legislators finally began to address the issue of asbestos-related illnesses. By then, millions of people have already been exposed to the toxic substance, often without even knowing its dangers.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to the harmful substance, asbestos, please contact an asbestos attorney at Williams Kherkher today by calling 800-781-3955.