• Kevin Maxwell

The Health Dangers Caused by Asbestos Exposure.

In recent years, the term asbestos has gained much recognition due to its link with cancer and other health issues. Asbestos is a natural mineral and because of its high resistance to heat, has been used in various building materials for more than sixty years. Although it is still used to some degree, it was banned from use in numerous construction applications by 1980.


What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is commonly found in soil and rocks throughout the planet and is identified as a type of silica, likened to what is used to manufacture computer chips and glass. The asbestos silica fibers are microscopic, and as such can easily become airborne. Thus, when inhaled or ingested, this foreign material can become lodged in the body and lead to cancer and other diseases.

Asbestos fibers are categorized according to shape and color. For instance the chrysotile fibers, known as white asbestos are curled at the ends, while the brown or blue toned amphibole fibers are straight. Although all types have been linked to lung issues, the long, straight fibers pose the most health problems, as they can penetrate the protective lining in the lungs, heart, or digestive tract, and result in asbestosis, pleural fibrosis, or mesothelioma.

When does Asbestos ExposureThreaten Health?

Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was frequently used in several building materials ranging from ceiling and flooring tiles, to shingles and insulation. It’s important to understand that coming in contact with asbestos containingmaterials isn’t harmful per se, rather the risk occurs when the small fibers are disturbed and released into the air. So, the likelihood of this happening is dependent on the application. For instance, insulation is much more apt to breakdown and form a lightweight dust, whereas floor and ceiling tiles typically stay intact unless they are torn or punctured.

The Health Issues Caused By Asbestos

Due to the fact that asbestos was used so frequently in homes, office buildings, and even automobiles from the 1930s to the late 1970s, most everyone has been around asbestos as some point in time.

During this era, the popularity of asbestos grew because of its abundance and versatility, especially for its soundproofing, thermal and fire resistant properties. It was being used by manufacturers across the U.S., not only in construction, but also on automobile assembly lines. That’s right – those collectible vehicles that we’re all familiar with in one way or another probably have asbestos material present inthe brake pads, clutches, gaskets, hood liners, and so on.

Again, it’s not until these materials are disturbed via drilling, sawing, are demolishing, which can pollute the air with particles where they are breathed in and become dangerous. The human body is an amazing creation, equipped with its own defense mechanisms, but unfortunately it isn’t invincible. In fact, the mucous membranes in the nose and throat can often stop asbestos fibers from further penetrating the body. However, if these toxins do make their way deeper into the body, it’s virtually impossible to get rid of them. This is when they become lodged into the linings of the lungs, or even the heart and stomach, and as with most foreign objects in the body, those defense mechanisms fail and health problems ensue.

Such issues include, asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural fibrosis, and lung cancer.