Asbestos refers to a group of six silicate minerals found in nature and is made up of tiny, microscopic fibers. Although asbestos is found freely, it can only be detected at low levels in the air, and while most people are exposed to it, the level is not enough to cause illnesses.
Since individual asbestos fibers are microscopic, they cannot be seen by the naked eye. They come out as sharp with needle-like appearance, but the color and the shape differs from fiber to fiber depending on the asbestos type and the asbestos mineral content, respectively.
Types of Asbestos
Asbestos falls in two general classifications, namely, amphibole and serpentine. The latter is known for having long, pliable, and curly fibers while those of amphiboles are normally stiff, straight, short, and needle-like.
Asbestos also come in six types, namely, amosite, actinolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, crocidolite, and chrysotile. The first five asbestos types are classified as amphiboles. Chrysotile is the only asbestos type tagged as a serpentine.
Use of Asbestos
Asbestos is considered a versatile material because it can withstand decay, heat, and erosion. It is also capable of resisting water and fire. For this reason, asbestos was used largely as an insulation material and fire retardant in various building constructions.
A wide variety of manufactured goods have also used asbestos, including roofing shingles, cement, and ceiling and floor tiles. Friction-based products like automobile brakes, clutches, and transmission parts have also made use of this mineral.
The peak in asbestos use came in the latter part of the 1900s when it was primarily used as insulation, roofing, flooring and fireproofing material. In 1979, however, its use became regulated because of health-related asbestos symptoms, consequently forcing manufacturers to look for alternatives.
Asbestos and Your Home
Many residential homes still contain asbestos to this day, normally in their roofing, walls, and ceiling, although these are not completely made of the versatile mineral. In particular, houses built before 1987 and until 1990 likely have materials containing asbestos. After 1990, however, asbestos-containing materials are no longer used when it comes to building residential homes due to serious asbestos symptoms.
Asbestos and Buildings
Asbestos became a very popular building material in the 1970s, and was used in practically everything from brake pads to skyscraper floorings. Any building constructed before the 70s likely has asbestos as among its primary materials, as well as offices that were built during the first half century.
Asbestos and Fire
Left alone, asbestos is considered generally safe, but when disturbed due to activities like demolition work and home repair, asbestos-containing materials can release asbestos dust into the air.
Fires are particularly dangerous, especially if they involve older establishments. Fragments of asbestos-containing materials (ACM), which are often visible during fires, can be covered by smoke plumes and eventually carried to nearby properties, gardens, and streets.
The majority of asbestos, however, are contained within the ACM, so this reduces the risk to public health. Still, if the ACM gets broken, there is a possibility that the fibres will be released into the air.
Why is Asbestos Bad?
During and immediately after a fire, asbestos usually becomes airborne as it often gets carried away by the surrounding smoke. At this point, it can be difficult to avoid inhaling the tiny fibers of this mineral. Repeated inhalation can cause permanent damage to the body cells which become inflamed over time. and lead to various cases of cancer.
Meanwhile, asbestos-related diseases are more likely to be contracted if you inhale asbestos dust for a prolonged period. Some of these are malignant, notably lung cancer, and mesothelioma while others are not. These include pleural plaques and asbestosis.
1. Pleural Disease
Pleural disease comes in two distinct types, both of which are considered as non-cancerous but affect the outer lining of the pleura (lungs). The first is pleural plaques which are small scarred areas that have thickened around the pleura.These can occur on either one or both sides of the lungs and are typically about the same size as a coin. Over time, they become more hardened and calcified.They are not actual symptoms, but they serve as an indicator of asbestos exposure risk.
Pleural thickening, meanwhile, tends to be more severe.These are patches that can affect both the pleura and the outer layers. They can cause lung restriction, preventing the organ from expanding properly, consequently leading to breathlessness.
2. Lung Cancer
Cancer of the lungs, according to Cancer Research UK, was the third most common cancer type in Great Britain in 2014. The usual cause is smoking, but studies showed that more than 10 percent of those suffering from lung cancer are non-smokers. In any case, the asbestos danger here is that exposure to the mineral can increase your chances of developing cancer of the lungs even if you don’t smoke.
Asbestosis refers to a condition where the lungs get scarring. It is often caused by inhaling asbestos, although the disease is considered as non-cancerous or benign. Nevertheless, the body’s reaction to asbestos inhalation tends to vary so damage to the delicate air sacs in the lung is possible, making it more difficult for the organ to oxygenate the bloodstream, consequently resulting in breathlessness.
If not treated, asbestosis damage to the lungs can be irreversible. This could lead to more serious problems, notably lung cancer, one common asbestos danger.
Mesothelioma refers to cancer of the linings of the lungs and, less often, the abdomen (also known as peritoneal or peritoneal).This malignant cancer type is seen as among the major health effects of asbestos exposure.
In the UK, approximately 2,500 cases of mesothelioma are recorded annually, with the number expected to continue rising over the next few years. Although mesothelioma treatment options have been limited in the past, the good news is that there are now recent medical breakthroughs that show promising results in terms of addressing patient cure and survival.
Deep Water Emergency Service and Restoration Can Help Prevent Fire Damage in Your Area
Fire damage is not only serious and heartbreaking; it’s also dangerous, especially when there are asbestos-containing materials or ACMs involved. When disturbed by fire, ACMs can release asbestos fibers which pose health risks when inhaled.
Deep Water Emergency Service and Restoration can prevent this from happening. We have a full team of fire damage restoration service Denver professionals that will immediately work on keeping fire damage to a minimum. This will ensure your complete safety and that of your family.
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