The Possible Health Risks of Asbestos

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It may seem that asbestos exposure is old news given the efforts starting in the late 1970s to ban and remove the substance from buildings across the nation. However, there is still asbestos present in some buildings, and it is still used in certain products. To fully understand the dangers that is present in asbestos, it is important to know more about the substance itself, how it is used, and why it is still used in today’s world.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural material, a crystalline mineral silicate, that can be found in various places in mostly drier settings, such as California. It was quickly discovered back in the 19th Century that its inherent strength and resistance to heat, acids, sea water, and electricity made it the perfect insulating material. It was not long before asbestos was used around the world and installed in facilities, buildings, and even homes as fire protection.

From the 1950s to the mid-1970s in the US, asbestos was used extensively in construction, ship-building, and insulation for many different products and appliances. Today, it has been banned for all construction and installation purposes inside buildings, residences, and facilities. However, it is still used in certain products, such as insulation for electrical wiring of some appliances.

Three Types of Asbestos

Because asbestos was flexible enough to be used in three different types, it allowed the substance to be used in so many different applications.

  • Chrysotile: Called “White Asbestos” – use long, flexible fibers
  • Crocidolite: Called “Blue Asbestos” – use shorter, stiffer fibers
  • Amosite: Called “Brown Asbestos” – use straight, coarse fibers

Warnings of Health Risks

It was suspected for many years, starting in the late 19th Century, that long-term asbestos exposure might lead to health issues. However, it was not until the 1950s that serious work was done to determine the actual health risks that asbestos exposure involved. By the end of the 1960s, mine workers in South Africa, who had been exposed to asbestos for a long time, had significant cases of mesothelioma, which is an aggressive form of lung cancer that can only be caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

By the 1970s, countries like the US and the UK were starting to take asbestos exposure seriously, which lead to the banning of the substance from the construction of new buildings. Even today, however, there are still structures that contain asbestos that can put people at risk.

Call Brickley Environmental

If you believe that your residence, building, or facility has asbestos present in the walls, around pipes, or anywhere inside, please call the professionals at Brickley Environmental. We have the knowledge, training, experience, and equipment to conduct a proper inspection to determine the presence of asbestos, and when discovered, to remove it safely.

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