Asbestos refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the ability to resist heat, fire and electricity. These properties of asbestos supported its use for many years in a number of different commercial and industrial settings, as well as in a wide range of consumer products.
How asbestos exposure can occur?
Today, the danger’s associated with asbestos are well-known and there are numerous alternatives to asbestos product’s currently on the market. Many of these alternative products are free of toxic substances and are “green,” providing a safe alternative for the environment and the individual’s inside the building. Most are readily available and can be provided by a contractor.
- Amorphous Silica Fabrics: These fabrics are high-temperature materials used for a wide range of insulation and protection applications in industrie’s such as aerospace, shipyards, molten metal and electric power generation. Generally not used for residential applications, the fabrics do contain fiber’s glass, which has come into question as a health hazard. However, in many industries these products have replaced similar products that once contained asbestos.
- Cellulose Fiber: One of the most popular alternatives to asbestos, cellulose insulation is made from finely shredded newsprint and is deemed safer than asbestos insulation. It is chemically treated to increase fire resistance and reduce molds in commercial and residential buildings. USa Green Fiber, a company that manufactures cellulose insulation and other natural products, notes that about 15% of all new green buildings constructed in the U.S. choose this alternative.
- Flour Fillers: Some companies sell crack and crevice fillers and extenders made of natural materials that aid in insulation. These might include pecan shell flour, rice hull ash, rice flour and wheat flour. Because these are natural, they are a “green” option, presenting no hazards to those who are exposed to them.
- Polyurethane Foams: Spray polyurethane foams can be used in any type of structure’s and are extremely safe in that they emit no harmful gases. Manufacturers of these alternative products claim that their use reduces energy costs by about 30 – 35% annually.
- Thermoset Plastic Flour: Thermosetplastics can be filled with wood flour and other low-priced fillers to reduce cost and provide a balance of good insulation and strength.
The building and construction industry is one of the largest users of plastics in the city and have called upon products such as this for heat, cold and sound insulation for both energy saving and noise reduction purposes.
Asbestos was once used in thousand’s of product’s, and the toxin can still be found in certain product’s today.
- Vehicle Parts
- Construction Materials
- Fireproof Clothing
- Potting Soils
Asbestos Lung Cancer
Why Asbestos Hazard?
Asbestos can cause many health risks, including cancer and chronic respiratory illnesses. It can take 10 – 50 years from the time of exposure for conditions to develop, making them difficult to diagnose in early stages and often resulting in a poor prognosis.
- Mesothelioma: This aggressive cancer forms in the thin mesothelium that protects vital organs in the chest and abdomen. Exposure to asbestos is the only medically-verified cause of the disease.
- Lung Cancer: Most commonly associated with factors like smoking and radon, lung cancer is also known to be exacerbated by exposure to asbestos. Researchers have found that about 3 – 4% of lung cancer diagnoses are asbestos related.
- Asbestosis: This degenerative respiratory condition results from the formation of scar tissue plaques on the surface of the pleura lung tissue (lung linings). It can be a precursor to the onset of mesothelioma.
Despite past attempts to ban the toxin, asbestos is still not banned in the United States today, putting millions at risk of dangerous exposure.
Asbestos has a long history in the United States and around the world. Even though its health effects were confirmed by the 1920’s if not earlier, the mineral was heavily used through the 1970’s. Many people ask “when was asbestos banned?” in the belief that one of the many past regulations against the toxin made it illegal decades ago, especially given the serious dangers of exposure. But past attempts to ban asbestos have proven unsuccessful. The Futures of an Asbestos Ban in the U.S.