What Is Asbestos and Why Is It Dangerous?
Updated: May 27
What is Asbestos?
In its natural state, asbestos is a type of mineral that is composed of malleable strands of fiber. The term asbestos includes two categories consisting of six types of the mineral.
Five of them are considered to be amphiboles. These types are recognized by their straight and jagged appearance. The included minerals are crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.
The one other recognized form of asbestos is considered to be serpentine. This category is defined by the curly fibers and only consists of one mineral called chrysotile, or as it’s commonly referred “white asbestos.”
Asbestos became of common use in several types of products, and was a standard form of insulation in properties built before the early 1970s. Unfortunately the material is extremely hazardous and must be removed by certified professionals from asbestos remediation services to prevent health problems.
Why Was Asbestos Used So Commonly?
Asbestos has heat, electricity, and corrosion resistant properties which make it a very useful material in all kinds of products and constructions. It has been used throughout history for several reasons. The ancient Greeks are even known to have made use of the material for blankets and the ancient Romans for their ceremonial candle wicks.
It’s modern uses can be attributed to the extensive deposits found in Canada and the northern United States in the late 19th century. The resource was plentiful and relatively inexpensive to produce which made it of great use in construction and other products.
Asbestos was used commonly in insulation of buildings, fire retardant attire for firemen, automotive parts, and numerous other things. Eventually in the early 1970s, closer examination and analysis of the material exposed the health risks it posed to people.
Once the health concerns became apparent, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started to ban certain uses and applications of asbestos in the 70s. In 1989 the EPA instituted a partial ban on the manufacturing and usage of asbestos to prevent harmful exposure.
However, even today asbestos is allowed for usage in a limited capacity in some industries despite the health risks. Most recently in December of 2020, the EPA evaluated the current usage of the chrysotile asbestos in some products and found “unreasonable risks to human health” where its use was concerned.
Despite its wide application potential, asbestos is no longer considered safe to use or be exposed to. It is important when conducting renovation or demolitions to have sites evaluated and remedied by asbestos removal services.
What Makes Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos releases tiny particles into the air that when inhaled will remain in your system causing serious health conditions.
Part of what makes asbestos exposure such a dangerous and sneaky problem is that the signs and symptoms of serious conditions can remain hidden for years..
Inhalation can cause non-cancerous respiratory issues like asbestosis and pleural disease. These conditions are the result of asbestos fibers irritating lung tissue and can significantly impact lung function leaving patients with difficulty breathing.
In many instances, asbestos exposure can lead to certain types of cancer. Lung cancer is one of the main forms that can occur as a result of exposure. There is also evidence that asbestos exposure can cause cancer in the larynx, ovary, pharynx, stomach, and colorectum.
Most commonly, and almost exclusively, linked to asbestos exposure is a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. At least 90% of mesothelioma cases are the result of asbestos exposure and cases can take 30-40 years to show any signs.
Because asbestos can be so dangerous it’s essential that if exposure is of concern for any reason that you contact medical professionals and asbestos abatement services immediately to help with the issue.
How You Can Prevent Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a tricky beast to tackle and requires proper training and certification to safely handle and remove.
When renovating or doing demolition on buildings that were built before the early 70s you have to contact experts at asbestos testing and removal to ensure you can move forward with construction.
If asbestos is present removal must be performed by certified professionals, likely the ones that conducted the testing of your home. Because the material is hazardous and difficult to deal with, asbestos removal companies and their workers must be certified in accordance with federal and state regulations.
The process of removing asbestos is complex and requires special equipment and a level of care that comes from years of experience. Tiny fibers can easily be disturbed and become airborne, enter vents, and move to new areas if not remedied properly.
When tackling any kind of construction that may expose asbestos, it is vital for the health of you and others to have it treated by experts in asbestos testing and removal.
Call Cascade Insulation Inc. to Make Your Home Safe
If you live in or own an older property, call our asbestos removal services right away to get help. Additionally, contact Cascade Insulation to schedule for asbestos air monitoring, household mold removal, or lead remediation. Contact us today at (541) 388-2600 or fill out the form here.