All About Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. There are six unique minerals identified as chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite that belongs to the serpentine and amphibole families. Chrysotile (white asbestos) is the most commonly used form of asbestos.

Where does Asbestos come from?

Asbestos can be found naturally occurring around the world. Within the USA, it was mined mostly on the west coast, but was also mined on the east coast in the Sall Mountain area of Georgia and in Vermont.

Is Asbestos Dangerous?

Yes, absolutely! Despite research suggesting there is varying risk associated with different types of asbestos; any exposure to asbestos can be dangerous to your health.

When these products are disturbed, the asbestos fibers become airborne and can remain suspended in the air for hours or even days after they are released. Asbestos fibers can become trapped in the body after inhalation.  Asbestos is a known carcinogen.

Asbestos Products 

Not all asbestos is banned. Asbestos containing materials (ACM) are still being sold and used. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Other products include:

  • Insulation (boilers, pipes, ducts, etc.)
  • Fireproofing, sound proofing, and textured ceilings
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  • Cement roof and siding shingles and panels
  • Textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
  • Heat-resistant fabrics

What are the health risks associated with Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a dangerous substance and should be avoided. But people who have contact with asbestos do not always develop health problems. The risk of disease depends on many factors:

  • How much asbestos is in the air
  • How often and for how long exposure occurs
  • How much time has passed since exposure began
  • Whether the person already has lung or breathing conditions and
  • Whether the person smokes tobacco

This is called the dose-response relationship.  Contamination on the intensity, duration, and nature of the exposure.

Asbestos-Related Diseases

Breathing asbestos can cause tiny asbestos fibers to get stuck in the lungs and irritate lung tissues.

Scientific studies have shown that the following non-cancer diseases can be caused by breathing asbestos:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural disease

Asbestos exposure also increases the risk of developing certain cancers:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma

In addition to lung cancer and mesothelioma, asbestos exposure can also cause cancer of the larynx and ovary. Current evidence also suggests asbestos exposure may cause cancer of the pharynx, stomach, and colorectum.

The needle-like fibers can cause irritation, resulting in mutation and cancer. Asbestos diseases such as asbestosis, pleural plaques are typically associated with long exposure and in turn, these diseases can be the onset of asbestos cancer.

Take a look at the GA EPD Asbestos Brochure for a downloadable Asbestos overview.

To find out more about how we can help you and your business with asbestos concerns in your home or commercial property contact Mill Creek Environmental today!

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