What Is Asbestos?

What Is Asbestos?

What Is Asbestos?Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous materials, chiefly composed of silicates, that occur naturally in many parts of the world. There are six different types of asbestos, of which three have been used in commercial products in the United States and throughout the world. These are: white asbestos or chrysotile, blue asbestos or crocidolite and brown asbestos or amosite. White asbestos was by far the most popular type of asbestos used in commercial products and applications. In fact, it is estimated that over 90% of all asbestos used in the United States was white asbestos or chrysotile.

Asbestos has very unique physical qualities, it was termed the "miracle mineral" because it could add strength to products and resist fire. For this reason the use of asbestos in commercial products became very common. Asbestos was frequently found in insulation and fireproofing, car brakes, cements and joint compounds, floor tile, and pipe coverings.

The use of asbestos in home building materials skyrocketed after World War II when families began to move in droves to the suburbs. The substance was commonly used in the building industry until the 1970’s. Asbestos is particularly dangerous because its fibers are 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair. This means the fibers can float in the air for extended periods of time and can be easily breathed into the lungs.

Breathing Asbestos Fibers Into The Lungs Is Linked To Serious Medical Conditions, Including:

Mesothelioma – A cancer of the chest lining and abdomen
Lung Cancer – One of the most serious types of cancer with a high mortality rate
Asbestosis - A condition where the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue making it difficult to breath.

The risk of Mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis increases with the number of fibers a person inhales. The risk of lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure is also greater among smokers. However, people exposed briefly to asbestos can also suffer from these conditions. The latency period with asbestos related diseases can be unusually long. Often the symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

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