WHAT IS ASBESTOS?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has properties of being heat and chemical resistant, corrosion resistant, high tensile strength and more. Chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite, are all different forms asbestos. Asbestos has been used in over 3,000 products such as: thermal systems insulation, flooring, building materials, vehicle brakes, pipe gaskets and more. The most commonly found form in commercial products is Chrysotile. Chrysotile is the only fibrous form of asbestos that can be found within the serpentine group. Asbestos fibers are unable to be seen with the naked eye because they are so small.
WHAT ARE THE HAZARDS OF ASBESTOS?
Nowadays, asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard. The use of asbestos started to decline in the 1970’s, and is now highly regulated by both OSHA and the EPA. Asbestosis is caused by breathing asbestos fibers and can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs. This gradually reduces the lungs ability to expand and contract normally. The most common form of health effects caused by asbestos is lung cancer. Mesothelioma of the pleura is another form of cancer, which specifically involves the membrane-like linings of the lung cavity. Mesothelioma of the peritoneum, involves the abdominal cavity. Pericardial mesothelioma is the most rare form, which occurs in the heart cavity.
WHERE CAN I FIND ASBESTOS?
Asbestos has been used in an extensive variety of manufactured goods, and mostly in building materials. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has 3 different categories of asbestos building materials: Surfacing materials, Thermal system Insulation (TSI), and Miscellaneous materials.
Most uses of asbestos are not banned. A few are banned under existing regulations. Where asbestos may be found:
- Sprayed or trowled on surfaces: Acoustical plaster, decorative plaster, spray applied fireproofing, textured paint, patching compounds…
- Floor tile and mastic
- Ceiling tile
- Roofing felt, roof mastics, and various roofing materials…
- Pipe insulations, gaskets, pipe wrap, asbestos tape, ducting etc.
- Caulking products, cement pipes (transite pipes), cement wallboards cement shingles…
- Paint, stucco, plaster…
HOW CAN PEOPLE BE EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS?
In general, exposure may occur only when an asbestos-containing material (ACM) is disturbed or damaged in a way that allows the asbestos fibers to be released into the air. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during demolition work, maintenance (building or home), repairs, and renovations or remodeling.
POSSIBLE HEALTH EFFECTS FROM ASBESTOS EXPOSURE
Exposure to asbestos can increase your risk of developing lung disease. If you are a smoker that has been exposed to asbestos, you are approximately 80 times more likely to get lung cancer. In general, the more exposure one has to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.