Is Asbestos a mineral?

Asbestos is a group of mineral fibers composed of magnesium, iron, sodium or calcium silicates. It is a natural mineral fiber, with a silky texture it occurs naturally in certain rocks and it can be hidden or visible.

It was used extensively in the industry for its abundance and low operating cost.

It was considered, for a long time, an essential raw material due to its physicochemical properties great mechanical resistance and high temperatures to acid, alkaline and bacteria attack.

Here are some characteristics that made Asbestos so popular in the industries:

  • non-combustible
  •  durable,
  • flexible,
  • indestructible,
  • resistant,
  • silky,
  • easily woven
  • has good insulating quality.

What is Asbestos used for?

For years, asbestos has been used mainly in the civil construction industry, here are some uses.

  1. vinyl floors,
  2. tiles,
  3. water tanks,
  4. partitions,
  5. false ceilings,
  6. pipes,
  7. decorative and planting vases,
  8. other asbestos-cement artifacts
  9. for acoustic or thermal insulation
  10. in friction materials in the brake linings (linings and pads),
  11. in joints,
  12. gadgets and other insulating and sealing materials,
  13. clutch disc linings,
  14. fabrics for clothing and accessories against flame or heat,
  15. paints,
  16. laboratory instruments

Is asbestos carcinogenic?

Asbestos is proven to be a carcinogenic substance, currently banned in the United States and practically all over Europe.  In total, asbestos is banned in about 62 countries.

The problem is in the asbestos inhalation. The fibers in the powder stimulate cellular mutations within the body, causing tumors that can cause lung cancer, especially mesothelioma.

Asbestos particles, once inhaled, are never released from the body.

Lung cancer can appear in an individual 30 years after he has inhaled asbestos dust, making it difficult for doctors to make an accurate diagnosis.

Some cancers that can be caused by Asbestos are:

  • Asbestosis;
  • Lung cancer;
  • Cancer in the gastrointestinal tract;
  • Ovary cancer;
  • Malignant tumor in the pleura;
  • Malignant tumor in the peritoneum.

Can asbestos kill you?

Over time, cases of people contaminated by asbestos began to emerge, since the human body is not able to expel the inhaled particles of the material. Two decades ago, many tiles, brake pads, and water tanks, among other products, were manufactured with asbestos fiber.

Nowadays, the raw material has been banned in more than 62 countries because it is proven to be carcinogenic.
Developed countries generally no longer tolerate being exposed to asbestos due to the risk of cancer. As a result, they transfer their asbestos production to poorer countries and seek better and safer solutions for their consumption.

We can notice a lack of concern about the production and consumption of asbestos in developed countries; some countries are major producers of the raw material but do not consume it. Canada, for example, is the second-largest producer of asbestos (only after Russia),  they exports the fiber as the rawest material, however, Canadians consume only 3% of what is produced.

Some doctors claim that asbestos is only harmful when it breaks, cracks or it’s damaged in any way,  because this causes it to release a kind of dust into the environment. If an asbestos tile breaks, for example, it cannot be disposed of as ordinary waste, as asbestos dust, popularly known as killer dust, once inhaled never leaves the body.
Over the years, some organisms develop an inflammation that has evolved and that can be fatal for some time.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos, during its handling and use, releases breathable fragments that contaminate the environment and are harmful to health. Asbestos residues have a high potential to affect human health, causing serious diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

It is known that the greatest risk of contamination of asbestosis by air, especially when broken or crushed, as is the case with construction waste, arising from demolitions, renovations and other destruction processes.

In addition to disease, asbestos can also cause severe respiratory disorders. The main health effects are:

  1. Asbestosis
    It is a disease caused by the deposition of asbestos fibers in the pulmonary alveolar, which reduces the ability to perform gas exchange, in addition to promoting the loss of pulmonary elasticity and respiratory capacity.
  2. Lung cancer
    Lung cancer can be associated with other types of illnesses, such as asbestosis. It is estimated that 50% of individuals who have asbestosis will develop lung cancer.
  3. Mesothelioma
    A mesothelioma is a rare form of malignant tumor, which can produce metastases by the lymphatic route in approximately 25% of cases.
    Asbestos can cause, in addition to the diseases mentioned above, cancer of the larynx, digestive tract and ovary; thickening of the pleura and diaphragm, pleural effusions, pleural plaques, and severe respiratory disorders.

How can I be exposed to Asbestos?

There is essentially two most common ways to be exposed to it, and they are:

  • At work:
    It is the main form of exposure; the main activities in which there is an increased risk of exposure to asbestos are: mining, grinding and bagging asbestos, manufacture of asbestos-cement products, manufacture of friction and sealing materials, installation and maintenance of industrial thermal seals, manufacture of textiles with asbestos, installation of asbestos cement products.
    It occurs mainly through the inhalation of asbestos fibers.
  • Environmental:
    Contact with clothing and objects of workers contaminated by the fiber; Reside in the vicinity of factories, mining or in areas contaminated by asbestos; Frequent environments where there are degraded asbestos products; Presence of free asbestos in nature or at points of deposit or disposal of products.

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos fibers can be classified into two groups:

  • Amphiboles are asbestos fibers that come in different varieties – amosite; crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, actinolite, etc.
    Among these, amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos) stand out for having greater commercial relevance.
  • Serpentines: fibers of the chrysotile variety, also known as “white asbestos”, composed of hydrated magnesium silicate.
  • Fiber cement: Corrugated tiles; cladding sheets; panels; tubes; water tanks.
  • Cars: Tablets; brake linings; clutch disc.
  • Thermal insulation: Fabrics, ropes, felt, paper and cardboard used as thermal insulation.

Should I test for asbestos?

Sure! Now that you know what asbestos can do to you, you should know that there is some way to test for it.
If your water or your ceiling is contaminated with it, it can be very dangerous for you and your family, that’s why we are going to show you some do at-home tests.

1) Asbestos Test Kit 1 PK (5 Bus. Days) Schneider Labs 

2) PRO-LAB Asbestos Do It Yourself Test Kit AS108 

3) Professional Asbestos Do It Yourself Test Kit by EIT – Prepaid Lab Testing and Shipping Perfect for your Home or Business, 5 pack 

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