Mar 18, 2008

What Is Asbestos?

What is Asbestos?

According to the Asbestos Network, asbestos actually refers to several naturally occurring minerals. These minerals have been used in commercial products to increase strength and flexibility. The Asbestos Network claims that these minerals are a mix of metals, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Asbestos, like coal or gold is mined. Some of the countries that mine asbestos include the United Sates, Canada, South America and the former Soviet Union.

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos is not just one substance; in fact it can be divided into several different types, and these types can be divided into two basic groups. These two groups are serpentine and amphibole. Environmental Health and Safety claims that the serpentine group only contains one member: chrysotile. This type of asbestos is the most common form found in buildings and is also known as “white asbestos.”

Both the Asbestos Network and Environmental Health and Safety list five different types of asbestos within the amphibole group. These five include amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Amosite is the second most prevalent type found in building materials and is also referred to as “brown asbestos.” Crocidolite, “blue asbestos,” is found in structures where the materials need to be safe from high temperatures. The final three, anthyphyllite, tremolite, and actinolite, are rarely found.

Problems Related to Asbestos

The Asbestos Network explains that contact with asbestos can cause diseases such as asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma. The fibrous nature of asbestos causes much of the problem. The fibers may get caught in the lungs and create lung damage. Or, they may even be swallowed and become lodged in membranes of the gastrointestinal track, according to the Asbestos Network. Again, this could lead to cancer of the lungs or of the GI tract. So while it may be thought that the lungs are the only place that can be damaged, it is other parts of the body can be negatively affected by asbestos.

Who is at Risk?

According to the Asbestos Network, the “dose” of asbestos that a person is exposed to equals the combination of the concentration, or the amount of asbestos in the air, and the duration, or the length of time that a person is exposed to asbestos. The more asbestos inhaled, the greater the chance of damage to lungs or other internal organs. Also, the Network says that cigarette smoking increases the likelihood of contracting an asbestos disease as it decreases the general health of the lungs. The Asbestos Network also lists several occupations that may be more likely to suffer from asbestos created diseases. These occupations include construction work, ship building, railroad working and automobile engineers.

How To Avoid It

There are several things that those who work around asbestos can do to limit their contact with the cancer causing fibers. The American Lung Association of Georgia insists on no eating or drinking while you are working. The Association also urges workers not to smoke and to follow proper guidelines when handling asbestos. Employers that place their employees in asbestos filled areas should have the employees properly trained on how to handle the substance, as well as how to avoid interacting with it.

About the Author:
Robert Michael is a writer for ABE Mesothelioma which is an excellent place to find mesothelioma links, resources and articles. For more information go to:

1 comment:

RacyKacy said...

It is quite alarming at how many people choose to ignore the warning signs that involve being around asbestos. People are suffering many years down the line after coming into contact with this deadly substance.