What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. Pure asbestos is an effective insulator, and it can also be mixed into cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger.

These qualities once made asbestos very profitable for business, but unfortunately, they also make asbestos highly toxic.

Asbestos is not a single type of mineral — rather, it refers to a group of silicate minerals that share the same fibrous nature. In business terms, it was common to speak of common “white asbestos” (chrysotile) and the less often used “blue asbestos” (crocidolite) and “brown asbestos” (amosite).

Why is Asbestos dangerous?

Microscopic asbestos fibers cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and asbestos exposure does not cause any immediate symptoms, so it is easy for a person to inhale or swallow asbestos dust without realizing it.

Once asbestos fibers are in the body, they never dissolve, and the body has extreme difficulty expelling them. Over years of time, trapped asbestos fibers can cause inflammation, scarring and eventually genetic damage to the body’s cells.

Asbestos-related illnesses often take 20-50 years to develop, which means most cases diagnosed in the United States today were caused by asbestos exposures that occurred before modern safety regulations came into effect.

Occupational exposure is the primary cause of asbestos-related illnesses, followed by secondhand asbestos exposure. Asbestos-related illnesses can also develop in people who lived in a contaminated environment or used asbestos-containing consumer products on a regular basis.

No amount of asbestos exposure is safe, but asbestos generally has the worst effects when a person is exposed to an intense concentration of it, or they are exposed on a regular basis over a long period of time. More asbestos accumulates in the body with every exposure, and there is no known way to reverse the cellular damage it causes.

How to safely remove Asbestos from your home

Hiring an asbestos abatement company, and not doing it yourself, is the wisest and safest decision when it comes to removing asbestos from any residential, commercial, or public building. Click here for more information on the dangers of asbestos in your home, what to look for when hiring an asbestos abatement company, and what to expect throughout the process.

Source: Special thanks to Asbestos.com for providing the content and images for this article.