History of Asbestos
Asbestos has high fiber strength and is heat-resistant mineral and it is also known to be a human cancer-causing agent.
Asbestos was used in building material during the Roman Empire and it was also a component of fabric that was used in clothing and numerous textiles.
But with the industrial revolution, the use of asbestos also increased. It was used in factories and industries to a greater extent and apart from this; it was also used in oil refineries, chemical plants, shipyards and railroad cars.
The use of Asbestos
The use of asbestos increases more and more increased as the twentieth century progressed. There was increased use of asbestos in building material for insulation and as a fire-retardant because asbestos has high fiber strength and is resistant to heat. It is also used in a varied range of manufactured goods, building materials that include roofing, shingles, ceilings, floor tiles and asbestos cement products, automobile clutch, brake and transmission parts, heat-resistant fabrics, and coatings.
But by the middle of the twentieth century, it was found that exposure to asbestos was causing health problems and known to cause mesothelioma. This cancer occurs, when asbestos is inhaled and the microscopic fibers lodge within the outer lung tissue layer known as the mesothelium. This thin layer of cells plays the role of protecting and lubricating the chest cavity. Asbestos is known to cause constant inflammation of these cells that result in harmful scar tissue forming on the surface and this scar tissue is the root for the development of cancerous cells.
Who can be exposed to asbestos?
- Workers who worked in an asbestos-heavy industry or those who handled asbestos products
- People working in the vicinity of boilers and insulated piping
- Workers who worked in shipyards, aboard navy vessels or on the construction or renovation of commercial building have a greater chance of exposure to asbestos
- Teachers, students, or other staff members who work in older school buildings are at a risk of exposure to asbestos products like ceiling or floor tiles and people living in old building
How can one be exposed to asbestos?
Asbestos fibers can release into the air during demolition work, renovation work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. Basically, exposure can occur when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged.
Diseases from exposure to asbestos:
The three major diseases that can occur due to asbestos exposure are:
- Lung cancer
- Asbestosis: it is very serious, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs
- Mesothelioma: it is a very rare form of cancer which can be found in the thing lining of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart
Because of the health hazards that asbestos causes, the use of it has been reduced as compared to before but has not been totally banned.