The Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is the name associated with a group of minerals which occur naturally in environment as bundles of fibers which can be separated into durable and thin threads. These fibers are so resistant to heat, fire, and also chemicals and do not conduct electricity. As such, asbestos has been used in various industries. Well chemically speaking, asbestos minerals are actually silicate compounds, which means that they contain atoms of silicon and oxygen in their molecule structure.

Asbestos minerals are classified into two main groups: Serpentine asbestos and also amphibole asbestos. Serpentine asbestos includes mineral chrysotile, which possesses long, curly fibers which can be woven. Chrysotile asbestos is the form which has been used most widely in various commercial applications. On the other hand, amphibole asbestos includes the minerals tremolite, actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, and crocidolite. Amphibole asbestos has straight, needle-like fibers which are more brittle than are those of serpentine asbestos and also are more limited in their ability to get fabricated.

Asbestos has been long mined and used in commercial purposes in North America since the end of 1800s. its use has been increased greatly during the World War II. Ever since, asbestos has been used in various industries. For instance, the building and construction industries have used it for strengthening plastics and cement as well as for insulation, fireproofing, roofing, insulation, and also sound absorption. The shipbuilding industry has used asbestos to insulate steam pipes, boilers, and hot water pipes. The automotive industry uses asbestos in vehicle brake shoes as well as clutch pads. In addition asbestos has also been used in floor tiles and ceiling; coating, paints, and adhesive; and plastics. Additionally, asbestos has been found in a great variety of vermiculite-containing garden products and some talc-based crayons.

What are the Health Hazards of Asbestos Exposure?

People may get exposed to asbestos during their work period, in their workplace, communities, or even their homes. If products which contain asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers will be released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in lungs and will remain there for long time. Over time, these dangerous fibers can accumulate and trigger scarring and inflammation, which may impact breathing and result in health problems.

Asbestos has been classified as human carcinogen, a substance which causes cancer, by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the EPA. Studies have evinced that extensive exposure to asbestos may well increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, which is a relatively rare cancer of thin membranes lining the abdomen and chest. Even though rare, mesothelioma is the most common form of cancer which is associated with asbestos exposure. In addition to mesothelioma and lung cancer, some researches have suggested the association between the exposure to asbestos and gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers, as well as enhanced risk for cancers of the kidney, throat, gallbladder, and esophagus. Nevertheless, the evidence has appeared rather inconclusive.

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