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Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of minerals with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word "asbestos" is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the "miracle mineral" because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat. Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century due to its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical damage, its sound absorption and tensile strength. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos is used in brake shoes and gaskets for its heat resistance, and in the past was used on electric oven and h otplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.

This "miracle material" is now known to be highly toxic. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including mesothelioma and asbestosis. Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in many countries.

How can asbestos affect my health?

From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibres can lead to an increased risk of:
lung cancer;
mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and
asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibres inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibres is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibres, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibres can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.

Caution!

Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These steps will disturb tiny asbestos fibres and may release them into the air. Remove dust by wet mopping or with a special HEPA vacuum cleaner used by trained asbestos contractors.


Learn more

Click here to learn more about Asbestos on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Or contact our team for profesional consultation or any information related to asbestos inspection and removal at (845) 659-0662.

 

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