About Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is term used to describe six naturally occurring minerals with similar properties. In the simplest of terms, asbestos is a rock mined from the ground.

Although asbestos refers to minerals, it is not actually a geological term. Only those minerals that have been made use of in industrial and commercial applications are referred to as asbestos; other minerals with similar properties are referred to as "asbestiform."

Asbestos has several key physical properties, incluiding its durability and resistance to heat and combustion. It is also fiberous in nature, which allows it to be spun and woven into cloth. Most chemicals do not affects asbestos, and it is also does not conduct electricity well.

Why is Asbestos so dangerous?

Asbestos is an extremely fibrous mineral and mining, milling, processing, or use of asbestos and its products create many small fibers. Because of their thin shape and small size, the asbestos fibers easily pass through the body's natural defenses designed to trap debris within the respiratory systems before reaching the lungs.

Once inside the lungs, the asbestos fibers slice into the sensitive tissue causing irritation and scarring. Because asbestos fibers are so durable, the body is not able to break them down to remove them. Once in place, the fibers continue to generate scar tissue, progressively damaging the lungs; extensive scarring can lead to the development of asbestosis. Asbestos may also cause the development of mesothelioma or lung cancer.

I think I was exposed to asbestos, will I become ill?

If you believe you were exposed to asbestos, you should notify your physician and continue to get regular checkups to monitor your health. Being exposed to asbestos does not mean that you will become ill. Only some people who have had asbestos exposure develop asbestos-related diseases like malignant mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen) or asbestosis (non-cancerous scarring of the lungs). If you suspect you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, contact your physician immediately. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you should learn about available treatments, seek out specialists in treating your asbestos-related disease, and make sure your legal rights are being protected. You may also want to contact a legal expert to understand what compensation you might be entitled to for your illness.

Where has Asbestos been used?

In many countries, asbestos is still mined, processed, and used. In a growing number of others, asbestos is either banned, or its use is severely restricted. Hundreds of products have used asbestos in their manufacture, and many of these products are still in place today in our homes and offices.

Asbestos has been used in industry since about the 1880's. As early as 1918, American and Canadian insurance companies were no longer insuring asbestos workers because of the assumed health hazards of the asbestos industry. In 1935, researchers in both the United States and England reported a suspected association between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. By 1955 this association had been confirmed and the link to several other types of cancer had been made as well.

However, the asbestos industry spent—and continues to spend—large sums of money trying to play down the hazards of exposure to asbestos fibers and to fight off stricter legislation.

Asbestos FAQ

Mesothelioma FAQ