The dangers of asbestos exposure have been understood for thousands of years. The fiberous mineral known as asbestos has been used since the time of the ancient Greeks because of its special properties of heat and fire resistance. Because of these properties, asbestos is used in construction, industry, manufacturing and homes and offices. Asbestos is heat and fire resistant, and chemically inhert. Because of its insulative properties, asbestos is hard to replace. Unfortunately, while asbestos is inhert outside the human body, when the fibers are inhaled, asbestos exposure can lead to several asbestos related diseases. These diseases, including mesothelioma, can be extremely deadly.
History of Asbestos Exposure
As a naturally occuring mineral that withstands heat and fire, and has great insulatitive properties, asbestos has always been thought of as a sort of miracle material. Asbestos exposure has always been known to cause problems, even by the ancients. In ancient Rome those who worked in the asbestos mines soon became sick. They were referred to as having “Slaves Disease.” Slave’s Disease was the result of asbestos exposure, and many died from its effects. While we also found many uses for asbestos, especially early in the 20th century, the effects of asbestos exposure were well understood. Those effects were kept, however, from the workers until illnesses began to develop.
Why Asbestos Exposure is Hazardous?
The fibers, when they break off and become airborn, can be extremely dangerous if inhaled. Asbestos fibers do not break loose unless it is disturbed. It is only when the fibers break loose and become airborn that there is a danger from the material. It is once the fibes get ito the lungs and other organs of the body that health is compromised. There are many potential disease that can develop from these dangerous fibers.
Asbestos is said to be “friable” when the material is disturbed, releasing it’s microscopic fibers into the air. If an area is known to have asbestos, it needs to be carefully monitored so as not to disturb the material. Asbestos that has maintained its integrity and does not easily break down is called “non-friable asbestos.” Even non-friable asbestos will break down under extreme abuse. regulated, if used. These fibers can become “friable asbestos” if subjected to extreme abuse, such as grinding or sanding.
Minimizing Asbestos Exposure Risk
Because of it’s unique properties, asbestos still serves a number of useful purposes in construction and manufacturing. Among its many uses would include, pipe and ductwork insulation, building insulation, and celing, wall and floor tiles. Asbestos can be found everywhere in and around the home. Asbestos can be found in spackling and drywall and joint compound. If you sand drywall, you must wear a mask! Roofing materials may contain asbestos, as well as cement, and automobile brake linings. You’ll find asbestos used in floor tiles as well as furnaces and plumbing insulation. To avoid asbestos exposure, make sure you’re properly protected when working in and around any of these materials.
Those working in shipyards, construction, and as mechanics are particularly susceptable to asbestos exposure. Over the last few decades, the use of asbestos has been greatly reduced. Although asbestos use is in decline, it is still being used today. To minimize asbestos exposure, it is vitally important to treat all products in construction and industry as though it cpontains asbestos. Even though many products today may not contain asbestos, the fact is, those same products, 20 years ago, may very well contain asbestos. Reduce your chances of asbestos exposure by treating these products as though they do.
Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
The fact is, if you’ve been continuously exposed to asbestos in the work environment, or even in doing jome remodeling, you are at risk for developing a number of asbestos related diseases, including malignant mesothelioma. Also at risk are those, including spouses who have been exposed to the clothing worn by those working around asbestos, though their risk is greatly reduced. Asbestos exposure is responsible for a number of asbestos related diseases and those who work around the material must take these risks seriously.