What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is actually six different types of fibrous minerals mined throughout the world. It has been used in a wide variety of products particularly in the ship building and construction industries. White Asbestos or Chrysotile accounts for 95 percent of all the asbestos found in buildings in the United State. This variety of Asbestos has been banned in most countries but it is still in limited use in the United States in products such as brake pads.
Health Issues resulting from Asbestos exposure.
Health issues relating to Asbestos use were first diagnosed early in the 20th century.
There are 3 major health effects resulting from asbestos exposure:
- Asbestosis – caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, resulting in irritation and scarring of the lungs.
- Lung Cancer – people in the mining, milling and manufacturing of asbestos are particularly susceptible to developing lung cancer as a result of the exposure.
- Mesothelioma –is a rare form of cancer where malignant cells form on the linings of most of the organs of the body but most often develops in the lungs. The illness is nearly always associated with exposure to asbestos.
In general the greater the exposure to asbestos the greater the risk of developing harmful side effects.
Asbestos use in the United States began in the 1860s. I gained widespread usage by the mid 20th century. It was used for a wide variety of uses such as ship building, fire insulation, fire retardant. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency identified the following asbestos product categories:
- Asbestos-cement – corrugated sheet
- Asbestos-cement flat sheet
- Asbestos-cement pipe
- Asbestos-cement shingle
- Roof coatings
- Flooring felt
- Pipeline wrap
- Roofing felt
- Asbestos clothing
- Non-roof coatings
- Vinyl/asbestos floor tile
- Automatic transmission components
- Clutch fairings
- Disc brake pads
- Drum brake linings
- Brake blocks
- Commercial and industrial asbestos friction products
- Sheet and beater-add gaskets
- Commercial corrugated and specialty paper
Nearly all of these products were used in residential as well as commercial and industrial applications.
Asbestos in Your Home – EPA – Asbestos in your Home Website http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ashome.html
While most building products today do not contain asbestos, homes built prior to the 1970s may have some asbestos products in. Possible sources of exposure include:
- Ducts, pipes, pipe insulation
- Vinyl floor tile and adhesives
- Cement sheet
For a complete list visit the EPA Asbestos in Your Home Web Page
Asbestos Do’s and Don’ts for the Homeowner
For a complete list of do's and don'ts for the homeowner who suspects the presence of asbestos in their home visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Asbestos Web Page
Environmental Protection Agency
Centers for Disease Control