Asbestos is a mineral fiber is found rock and soil and is made of silicon, oxygen, hydrogen, and other metal ions. Asbestos refers to a set of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals – chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite. Chrysotile (white asbestos) makes up most of the asbestos mined and used. Some scholars believe the word asbestos comes from the ancient Greek term sasbestos, meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable.”
Asbestos fibers are durable and resistant to fire and most chemical reactions and breakdowns. Because of its durability and resistance to heat, asbestos fibers became a very popular material used in wide variety of building materials including flooring, roofing shingles, compounds, textiles, and automotive parts. It is also used in many manufactured goods, mostly for building materials, friction products, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, and coatings. The fibers in asbestos are strong, flexible and will not burn, making it a great material for insulation. However, asbestos is also associated with serious health hazards.
Though some laws and regulations govern the use of asbestos, there are common places where it can still be found, including:
- Attic and wall insulation
- Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring
- Roofing and side shingles
- Textured paint and patching compounds
- Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material
- Oil and coal furnaces
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Automobile clutches and brakes
Exposure to asbestos fibers occurs when products containing asbestos are disturbed, thus releasing asbestos fibers into the air. This often occurs during demolition work, maintenance, repair, or remodeling.
According to the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, 10,000 people die every year from some type of disease due to asbestos exposure in the United States. According to an article from 2004 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, asbestos is still a hazard for 1.3 million U.S. workers in the construction industry and for workers involved in the maintenance of buildings and equipment.
Side Effects of Asbestos Exposure
Exposure to asbestos greatly increases your chance of developing lung disease. Symptoms of the disease may take many years, possibly up to 50 years, to develop after you have been exposed. The most common major side effects are:
- Lung cancer
- Mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer that develops in the protective lining of internal organs)
- Asbestosis (a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the tissue of the lungs)
Asbestos has also been linked to other cancers including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and larynx.
We may be able to help you if:
- You were exposed to asbestos, especially in the workplace.
- If you have been diagnosed with any of the diseases mentioned above.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos and has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another lung disease, please contact us today for a free confidential case evaluation.