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Blog Environmental Issues Asbestos In The Home
Asbestos In The Home
Environmental Issues
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Though asbestos is naturally occurring, there is nothing natural about the health hazardous that it presents to humans that are exposed to its fibers. The Greeks at one time referred to it as the "miracle mineral" due to its pliant properties and its ability to resist heat. The following information will explain what asbestos is, common uses for it, and the health risks it presents.

What Is Asbestos?

There are six types of minerals that can actually be asbestos. It will be made up of one of these six. Each of these minerals do not crush and become dust. Instead, they separate into tiny fibers. Veins present in rocks are often asbestos, and these rocks are mined. This mining no longer takes place in the United States, but does take place in other countries. After mining is complete, the rocks are crushed and processed, at which point they can be added to various products. Asbestos is no longer used to product construction materials in the United States. It is, however, still used in other parts of the world.
 
There are three main types of asbestos that were used in construction before the use of asbestos was stopped. These are Chrysotile, Crocidolite and Amosite. Chrysotile is the most common, as this type was used to produce insulation. Crocidolite was used in the production on some grout products. Amosite was used in insulation as well, but mainly for the types that were used around pipes and boilers.

Common Uses of Asbestos

Home that were constructed just after World War II up until the 1980's may contain asbestos. Once it was discovered to present health risks, it was no longer used to produce insulation, as well as some other products. It is important to note that asbestos was used to produce several thousand different products, and not all types are banned from being used at this time.

Major uses included or may include:

  • Fireproofing materials that are sprayed on
  • Pipe and boiler insulation
  • Noise reducing ceiling tiles
  • Strengthening additives in floor tiles, textiles, and more
  • Clutches and brake shoes for cars
  • Textured paints

What Makes Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos fibers are small in size, and can therefore be easily breathed into the lungs. How small? They cannot be seen by the naked eye. Their light weight allows fibers to easily become airborne, at which point they can remain in the air for quite some time. This ability makes it very hard to remove damaged asbestos once it has been disturbed.
 
Friable asbestos is more dangerous than non-friable asbestos. This is because friable asbestos crushes easily and then becomes airborne. Non-friable materials are less dangerous, yet once they reach the friable state will no longer be considered safe. When asbestos fibers reach the lungs they settle into the lower portion where they remain. Negative health effects may not make themselves known for quite some time after exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos Related Diseases

Lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis are the three most common asbestos related diseases. However, there are several others. Minimal asbestos exposure may not cause disease. Prolong exposure when not properly protected greatly increases the chance of health problems. Completely avoiding asbestos exposure if at all possible is the best course of action.

Asbestos Removal

There are many problems around your home that you may be able to fix. The removal of asbestos is not one of them. This is a job that must be completed by a professional removal service that has the training and equipment required to complete the removal safely. Should you suspect that asbestos may be present in your home, or present in a home that you are considering purchasing, speak to a home inspector right away. 

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Darin Redding
Written on Wednesday, 19 August 2009 16:20 by Darin Redding

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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 May 2012 19:01
 

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