Everyone has at some point heard of asbestos. It has been popular since the end of the 19th century because people discovered it had good sound absorption, durability and is very resistant to fire. Since that time it has been widely used in building construction as a fire proofing material. It was mixed with cement or woven into fabrics as a way of insulation. Unfortunately, it has also been discovered that asbestos can be inhaled with the fibers being very harmful to human health.
Asbestos Causes Disease
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Since asbestos is a silicate mineral and it is composed of thin fibrous crystals, which have specific physical characteristics and a high bio-persistence it is very dangerous to the human body. Long exposure to asbestos can cause serious illnesses. These illnesses can be detrimental to human health and can often lead to fatal outcomes. Some of these illnesses include asbestosis, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, gastro-intestinal cancers, pleural changes, ovarian cancer and in some cases kidney cancer.
One of the major illnesses it causes – asbestosis is, in fact, scaring of the lungs resulting in loss of breath. This insidious disease can develop years after the initial exposure, and it will make breathing more and more difficult until the lung collapses. Lung cancer, as one of the biggest killers of those exposed to asbestos, can be even more persistent if the person exposed to asbestos is a smoker. Another major disease caused by asbestos inhalation is mesothelioma. It is a cancer of the lung or the abdomen, that can be very quick and it is always fatal.
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There are also many different forms of asbestos like white asbestos, blue asbestos and brown asbestos, which can be made by combining different types of asbestos fibers. They differ in properties and because of that they are used for different purposes like insulation, resistance to water and fire. However, as it has been discovered, almost all of the asbestos fibers are responsible for causing the illnesses mentioned above. For that reason, there is no form of asbestos which is safe for humans. After years of research and the revelation of these facts, the European Union and most of the other industrial countries have banned the use of asbestos, as well as its extraction. Unfortunately, asbestos is still used in many developing countries, where it affects everyone who is exposed to it, from construction workers to the inhabitants of such buildings including children. Its highest production nowadays comes from Brazil, Canada, China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe. In spite of this research asbestos can still be found in products in the US and Canada.
Needless to say when removing asbestos it is absolutely crucial that it is done by professionals in order that all fibers are properly removed and that the asbestos is fractured or broken during the removal process, releasing harmful particles into the air.