Asbestos is a very durable and flame resistant material. Unfortunately, it is also very harmful, and it is now known as a carcinogen. While widespread use of asbestos was stopped in the 1980s in the United States, it can still be found in many older products and even in some new products, though in tiny amounts.
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Where does Asbestos originate from?
The mineral can be found all over the world, although Russia, Kazakhstan, and China export it. There was a time when asbestos was mined throughout North America. Commonly, asbestos is found in talc and vermiculite. Commercial ones usually contain 5% to 6%, while natural ones contain as much as 50% asbestos.
Why is it harmful?
According to some scientific studies, exposing oneself to asbestos can cause various diseases, including cancer. Mesothelioma, a type of cancer, is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. The toxic mineral also causes asbestos-related lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Given its toxic nature, it’s essential to know where you may come into contact with asbestos so you can take proper precautionary measures.
Asbestos was used in drywall for many years. It made the drywall lightweight, fire-resistant, and easy to work with. Drywall containing asbestos can be found in many older homes, particularly those built between 1930 and the early 1980s. Drilling into or cutting this drywall in any way will release the microscopic asbestos fibers into the air, where they will become a hazard. The health impacts of asbestos are quite varied, asbestos.net has a great deal of information and resources if you think you have already been exposed.
Asbestos has also been used for automobile parts, brake pads being one of the most common. It was used in things like brake pads because of its resistance to friction, making it an ideal material for this type of product. Changing the brakes or doing any kind of mechanical work on an older model vehicle may put you at risk for asbestos exposure.
Because asbestos was cheap to produce and could be easily mixed with other materials, like paper or cement, it was added to many different products. One of these products was pipe insulation. Asbestos was good for insulation because it does not transfer heat or cold easily, it lasts a long time, it is easy to mold, and it is resistant to corrosion. If you cut into this insulation in any way or try to remove or replace it, you may be exposed to asbestos. If you are concerned about exposure at work, you can review CDC or OSHA guidelines to learn proper protocols and precautions.
Suppose you are thinking of doing any work with these materials. In that case, especially if they were manufactured before the 1980s, it is crucial that you have them tested for asbestos before working with them. If they are found to contain asbestos your best, and safest course of action is to hire a professional to do the job. They will be able to handle it using the proper procedures and equipment.