• Asbestos is a set of six silicate minerals which are used commercially for their innate physical properties. Asbestos contains thin fibrous crystals, that when inhaled, can cause serious illness to lungs in the form of malignant lung cancer or mesothelioma which facilitates a complete breakdown of the respiratory system.
• As a result of the inherent dangers associated with the mineral, the European Union has banned all use of asbestos. In the United States; however, asbestos-based materials are still found in older buildings or structures. To prevent the development of mesothelioma or cancerous diseases associated with the inhalation of asbestos, modern construction projects refrain from using asbestos-based materials. Additionally, when older structures are renovated or demolished, a scrupulous procedure must be followed to observe, evaluate, and subsequently remove all traces of the deadly agent.
Types of Asbestos:
• All forms of asbestos belong to the serpentine class chrysotile which belongs to amphibole class amosite, corcidolite, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllitye. The distinction between serpentine and amphibole-based asbestos are found in their chemical compositions and their degree of potency when inhaled by human beings.
• During the Industrial Revolution, the development of commercial asbestos became prevalent due to its relatively cheap cost and versatility. Asbestos products were used for the following reasons: fire retardant coatings, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, lawn furniture, dry wall, and other forms of insulation.
• The multitude of uses stems from the minerals inherent characteristics. Asbestos is effective at insulating materials and covering other materials to provide protection from fire or excessive heat. Asbestos products contain special qualities that aid in insulation, fire protection, and strengthening other materials.
Health Problems Related with Asbestos Use:
• Chronic exposure to inhaled asbestos flakes can be hazardous to an individual’s health. When inhaled, asbestos fibers stick to the outer linings of the lungs. The fibers then attack the mucus walls and the trachea; the fibers break down the natural process of the respiratory system and quickly alter the natural cells’ processes.
• As a result of the agent’s propensity to develop lung-based cancers, the majority of states have instituted laws which ban the use of asbestos in commercial or private structures. Although asbestos is still used today, all materials that contain the minerals are enclosed in a protective casing. This protective measureprevents the asbestos from chipping away and subsequently becoming airborne. To further regulate asbestos use, whenever a building is renovated or demolished, an asbestos survey must be conducted to reveal any materials that contain the mineral. If the survey reveals traces of asbestos, an abatement procedure will be administered to remove all forms of the hazardous material.