Asbestos – What It Is, Health Risks, and More

Although mostly banned in the US and many countries, the chance of asbestos exposure is still quite strong. Asbestos was once a commonly used mineral in several different industries, but today it is known for its health threat in the form of mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Understanding the threat starts with knowing what asbestos is, where you are likely to be exposed, the health risks associated with it, and how it can be safely removed.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral that is made of small fibers which are so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye. These fibers are quite strong, resistant to heat, and even fireproof. Because of the abundance of asbestos and its fireproof qualities, it was commonly used in many industries for decades. Perhaps its most common function was in commercial structures where its heat and fire resistance made it well-suited as insulation material.

However, by the late 1970s studies showed that the microscopic fibers in asbestos caused lung cancer along with mesothelioma, a condition that is only caused by the inhalation of asbestos over time. Because of the studies, regulations on the use of asbestos became stricter and asbestos used in structures started to be removed.

While not fully banned in the US, its use is quite limited. However, in many other countries asbestos is still commonly mined and used in a wide variety of industries.

How to Become Exposed to Asbestos?

In its natural form, asbestos is mostly harmless as the fibers are trapped within the material. However, when processed the fibers become loose which makes them dangerous. The most common means of exposure is in the presence of products that use asbestos such as the following.

  • Insulation, Roofing, & Other Construction Materials
  • Cement, Paint, & Drywall
  • Tiles, Sealant, & Plumbing Materials

In most cases, it is when the insulation is falling apart that the fibers are released into the air. That is when they can become inhaled and pose a risk. It is also possible to ingest asbestos, but such cases are quite rare.

What are the Health Risks?

In most instances of mesothelioma, the cause is the inhalation of asbestos fibers over a long period of time. The fibers get stuck in the lungs and cause inflammation and scarring which leads to an aggressive form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

There are few noticeable early symptoms of mesothelioma. And what symptoms do exist such as shortness of breath or coughing are often associated with lesser conditions, at least at first. By the time the more serious symptoms are noticed, the cancer becomes difficult to stop.

How to Remove Asbestos?

Only licensed professionals should attempt to remove asbestos, which can still be found in some structures which date back to the 1970s and before. If the asbestos is still wrapped and in good condition, it does not pose an immediate health risk, but it still must be removed. Once identified, it is best to contact a licensed asbestos removal company. 

Asbestos still represents a threat to those living and working in structures that contain the mineral. If you are not sure if asbestos is in your building, contact Brickley Environmental today.

Contact Brickley Environmental Today

With numerous dangers facing your home or business, calling the professionals at Brickley Environmental is a good place to start. We offer our knowledge and experience along with the tools to detect and remove infestations of various types. The services provided by Brickley Environmental includes the following.

  • Asbestos Abatement
  • Mold Remediation
  • Lead-Based Paint Removal
  • Demolition
  • Hazardous Waste Removal

If you are facing any of these issues, call Brickley Environmental today. Our friendly, courteous staff will take your call and answer your questions, so you can make the best-informed decision about what to do next. At Brickley Environmental, we are here to help you.