Health and Environment -Exposure to Asbestos can lead to Cancer
Q. What is Asbestos ?
Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals that have been mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. Asbestos is commonly used as an acoustic insulator, for thermal insulation, fire proofing and in building materials. Asbestos fibers are strong and have properties that make them resistant to heat. It is often found in ceiling tiles, pipe and vessel insulation, blown on to structural beams and ceilings, and in floor tiles. The term asbestos is derived from a Greek word meaning �inextinguishable, unquenchable or inconsumable�. It is a generic name for a group of fibrous silicate minerals.
Q. How many different types of Asbestos are there ?
There are usually six different types of asbestos that are found in commercially manufactured products Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos is the commonest while amosite ( Brown asbestos ) and crocidolite ( Blue Asbestos ) are the other common types of Asbestos. It is naturally occurring and deposits can be found in most countries around the world. Most as Asbestos comes from the former Soviet Union, Canada (White Asbestos ), South Africa ( Brown Asbestos ), and Australlia ( Blue Asbestos ).
Q. How do we make products from Asbestos ?
Asbestos is mined from the ground usually by open cast method. The raw material is very coarse and looks much like old wood. It is them processed and refined into fluffy fibers. The fibers are then added to some fro of binding agent like cement to form an asbestos containing material (ACM). Asbestos cement contains between 10-15% asbestos fibers.
Q. Why is a Asbestos is Hazard ?
Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become air borne when distributed. These fibers get into the air and may be inhaled into the lungs, where they may cause health problems. Medical statistics indicate the more asbestos fibers you inhale the greater the risk of developing a disease. There is no indication yet of a sage amount of exposure.
Q. What are the diseases that can be caused by exposure to asbestos ?
Asbestos is a lung disease first found in naval shipyard workers. As asbestos fibers are inhaled, they may get trapped in the lung tissue. The body tries to dissolve the fibers by producing an acid. This acid , due to chemical resistance of the fiber, but may scar surrounding tissue. Eventually, this scarring may become so severe that the lungs cannot function. The latency perod (the time it takes for the disease to become developed) is often 25-40 years. Mesothelioma is the cancer of pleura (the outer lining of the lung and chest vavity). This form of cancer is peculiar because the only known cause is from asbestos exposure. The latency period is often 15-30 years. Lung cancer can also be caused by asbestos and the latency period is 15-30 years.
Q. When is asbestos a hazard ?
Asbestos is not always an immediate hazard. It�s only when asbestos containing materials are disturbed or the materials become damaged that it becomes a hazard. When the materials become damaged, the fibers separate and may then become airborne.
Q. What has been status of litigation with respect to Asbestos ?
Most uses of Asbestos are banned in many countries, especially the West. In the US, asbestos was one of the first hazardous air pollutants to be regulated. One estimate says that, in the 20th Century more than 100 million Americans were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Today, lawsuits claiming that asbestos caused plaintiffs have so far run into tens of billions of dollars for expenses, settlements and judgments. Over 70 corporations have filed chapter 11 bank ruptcy in the face of heavy liability claims. Since, the late 1970s 6% of all filling in American courts each year were related to asbestos. But it is also believed by many that asbestos litigation in a lot of cases is fraudulent. A study found that less than half the money spent on asbestos litigation went to injured parties, as opposed to attorneys fees and administrative costs.