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What Asbestos is Used For and Why?

1#) What is Asbestos?

Highly toxic, asbestos is a natural mineral that is composed of microscopic fibers that are soft and flexible. This natural compound is said to be resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion which are very useful but when exposed to the natural mineral, can be quite a hazard as it contains a  high amount of toxicity that may severely affect a human being.

Due to the highly toxicating fibres that asbestos contains, it is banned in many countries such as the United Kingdom. History has shown that asbestos was used for construction, mainly flooring, roofing, ceilings and walls in buildings. Since the ban of asbestos in the year 2000 many buildings still remain containing asbestos, but only if these materials are disturbes that asbestos fibres have the ability to release itself into the air and may be inhaled into a person’s lungs.

Many are at risk of inhaling asbestos fibres, but those who work in construction have the highest risk. So many were exposed to asbestos fibres between 1940 and 1979. 27 million to be exact. This goes to show that the exposure to this natural occurring mineral, should not be taken lightly. The following are people who who have  had a higher risk in exposing themselves in asbestos:

  • Builders
  • Plumbers
  • Carpenters
  • Painters
  • Electricians
  • Asbestos Miners

Unfortunately, despite the lack of research people had on asbestos, irresponsible and selfish manufacturers and companies that produced products containing asbestos knew that it was indeed a very dangerous way before it was publicized to be highly toxic. Years went by and the truth behind asbestos was finally revealed but before anyone was warned of the highly toxic fibres, many were already exposed and affected, causing diseases and sicknesses that people are still suffering from to this day.

2#) Where Asbestos is Found

Asbestos is a mineral that has been used since the beginning of time. Many archeologists have discovered that asbestos was used dating back to 750,000 years ago, during the stone age. It was found in every content of the world, used by Egyptian pharaohs from 4000 B.C. to the Finnish creating claypots made out of asbestos back to 2500 B.C. This natural occurring mineral, as dangerous as it is, is a part of history that dates back to many many years.

Before this mineral was banned, it was found in a lot of products in your own home. Products such as fibro sheeting in walls and ceilings, the backing of floor coverings, water drainage and flue pipes, as well as the roofing of shingles and guttering. If you thought that was it, there are more that can possibly be located inside or outside of your house. The downside? If your house contains asbestos and fire, hail or anything that may trigger asbestos fibres may be a hazard and should be removed by a licenced asbestos removalist. Here is a list of locations in your household you should check on:

1. Inside the House

  • Cement Flooring
  • Kitchen Splashback
  • Flues to Fireplaces
  • Internal Wall Sheeting
  • Internal Ceilings
  • Insulation Below Wood Heater
  • Tilux Marble Finish Wall Panel
  • Backing of Vinyl Sheet Floor Covering
  • Carpet Underlay
  • Loose Fill Insulation in Roof Activity
  • Compressed Asbestos Sheet
  • Internal Angle Mouldings
  • Vinyl Floor Tiles
  • Carpet Underlay

2. Outside of the House

  • Downpipes
  • Fence
  • Sheds and External Toilets
  • Backing for Electrical Meter Boards
  • External Wall Sheeting
  • Dog Kennel
  • Garage
  • Ridge Capping
  • Downpipes
  • Internal and External Ventilators
  • Eaves and Gables Ends
  • Gutters
  • Dog Kennel

3#) Diseases and Complications Due to Asbestos

Due to the high toxicity of asbestos fibres, when inhaled by a human, one could experience serious diseases. Asbestos, when one is exposed, is hard to destroy. A body cannot simply break down or remove once they are inside your lung or body tissues. Here are the three diseases associated with asbestos:

4#) Lung Cancer

Those who are involved in mining, milling, and manufacturing are of much higher risk in getting lung cancer due to exposure in asbestos fibers. Lung cancer has the largest fatality rate due to this exposure. This type of cancer spreads to the lymph nodes as it progresses, which makes treatment difficult. Cigarette smokers are even of higher risk of getting lung cancer than those who have been only exposed to asbestos. Unfortunately, there are only a few ways to treat lung cancer. Surgeons will most likely remove the tumor in the hopes of eliminating the disease. The types of surgical procedures are; Resection, the removal of the tumor, Lobectomy, the removal of the entire cancerous section, and a Pneumonectomy, the removal of the entire lung. Lung cancer is not a joke, and treating it is very expensive, so make sure you are safe from inhaling these natural occurring minerals as it can cause you your earnings, or even worse, your life.

5#) Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is the only known cause of the exposure of asbestos fibres. A very alarming disease, it can only be diagnosed when the cancer has spread to the other areas of the body. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that forms in the testicles, abdomen, heart and the lining of the lungs. Those who work in asbestos mines and mills are of higher risk in getting Mesothelioma. This disease is slow; you will most likely get Mesothelioma 15-20 years after the exposure to asbestos fibres. Take note that once exposed, fibres may be inhaled by your lungs. As time flies by, a build up will occur, causing these asbestos fibers to lodge themselves into tissue linings and may damage your healthy tissues. In the end, you will most likely be diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Make sure to take precautions when exposed to asbestos products. Fortunately, when caught early on in the disease and if treated properly, there is a possibility that a patient may be cured.

6#) Asbestosis

When exposed to asbestos fibres and you start to experience a shortness of breath, and a dry cackling sound in the lungs while inhaling, immediately go to a health professional as it may be Asbestosis. A chronic and non-cancerous disease, it is the scarring of lung tissues when asbestos is inhaled. Sadly, this respiratory disease is non-curable. When diagnosed with Asbestosis, most likely it will deteriorate your lungs and will cause you a fatal death. With that being said, if you or anyone in your family is interested in renovating your house, make sure the products you use are asbestos-free as this can not only affect your family, but your neighbors too.

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