Asbestos was a popular material used in many products for a variety of industries. This was extensively pooled from mineral deposits in many parts of the world and used in different countries, too. This has been the case since the 1800s, especially during the Industrial Revolution. It was said to carry properties that helped make fireproof clothes and insulators in steam engines.
Its rise and popular use made it a very attractive material that almost every home and commercial establishment would carry asbestos in them. It was from the discovery of asbestosis that awareness began to arise among people. From such wide use, one would be curious what could have triggered such type of cancer? What is it about the material that makes it dangerous? Here are some things you need to know about.
Asbestos Properties That You Need to Know About
Its abundant presence on the earth’s minerals made it one of the most accessible materials in the world. There was so much documentation that asbestos is present in many of the earth’s mineral deposits. This made it an attractive option for many countries to use in construction, among many others. Add this to the fact that there was even technology that was developed to process and enhance it better. It was no surprise that more people were even more encouraged to utilize it because of its varied purposes and availability.
Asbestos is known to be a handsome fiber that offers so much potential for different types of materials that you can convert them into. It was no surprise that so many people were encouraged to use it. Not only did it offer a lot of potentials to transform it into other materials, but it offered so much possibility to generate income, as well. This means that the possibility of creating other products out of the fibers itself turned out to be a source of business prospect, too.
It became known for its durability. Asbestos is known to resist fire. It also absorbs heat and electricity. On more than one occasion, this has been proven and tested. It is this quality of the material that made people so interested in it, in the first place. If you think about it, the discovery of asbestos came at a perfect time when engines are being tapped and are taking economies by storm. Societies made use of asbestos for a lot of materials that allowed man to get some leverage against heat. At the same time, what made this even more enticing to use is that it resisted chemical breakdown. This means that even if you subject asbestos to other chemicals, it almost would not budge.
The same durability and resistance are causes for cancer in humans. Asbestos exposure literally means that the person who has inhaled it has a very high chance of getting cancer. This is because of the very same property that its fibers are very durable and cannot be broken down. Once it is lodged in the body, it remains there to cause chronic inflammation and, in worse cases, cancer.
The last property of asbestos was not immediately realized. It was widely used as materials in the construction and automotive industries. Its primary use was for insulation, especially where it helped balance out the heat in the right places. At the same time, it also made a lot of homes and commercial structures more habitable because it kept the heat inside without much use of gas. It further gave people some semblance of safety because it was known to make structures “fireproof”. Hence, this durability was what many households really paid for.
From a simple insulation material, asbestos evolved to become automotive parts like brake pads, gaskets, and hood liners. It was also made into cement and tiles, including the adhesive used to lay down the tiles. Textiles were also counted as a by-product of asbestos where it was used widely for fireman suits, blankets, and similar items that are known to resist heat and also keep humans warm.
After experts have completed asbestos testing, it was realized that the use of asbestos has become so widespread that it has evolved into a wide range of products. From this, many countries have completely banned the use of asbestos, but not the United States. The government has deemed the value of its use but with much precaution. It is for this reason that anyone who has had asbestos exposure needs to immediately undergo treatment to avoid worse health issues.
Part of the precautionary measures that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission took was to ban specific types of products that they found contained asbestos. These were the following: paper products, flooring felt, insulation for pipes and blocks, spray-on coatings and fireplace decorations, and filters for pharmaceutical manufacturing. If the product or structure is proven to have asbestos in it, regulations were made in place to ban its use.
Following the above guidelines, the use of asbestos has been completely stopped after 1989. However, in 2019, new guidelines came out allowing its use again, but under very strict regulations. The items worth highlighting among those guidelines would be the following:
Relevant products known to utilize asbestos as part of their materials should bring the content down to a maximum of 1% only. This way, risks are kept at a minimum to an almost negligible amount.
Manufacturers are required to indicate on their labels that their products contain asbestos if it is more than the limit of 1%. This way, all consumers, especially prospective buyers would be properly educated about their purchases. This prevents anyone from walking blindly into risks that they deserve to know about.
A regulatory review should have taken place before any product is released in the market for public consumption. This includes asbestos testing to ensure that exposure is not something that people should be worried about. At the same time, it empowers people to make educated decisions about their purchases. It is essential to keep in mind that there are still quite a lot of consumers who believe that there are more pros than cons in using asbestos. This is especially true if they use it in their specific industry. At least, with the review of the authorities, any risks involved are now sitting on the lap of the buyers.
Today, there are still a lot of products that are said to contain asbestos. Many manufacturers try to keep the limit down to less than 1%. By doing so, they would no longer be required to publish that their products contain this material. Most of these products are still present in the automotive industry but quite a number are also items we use at home. A good example would be stoves and coffee pots. Dryers and some fabrics are also known to contain asbestos. It could also be present in make-up and toys, like crayons, crime lab kits, and children’s make-up.
You will also continue to find some asbestos-containing construction material in many structures. It could be in someone’s home, business, or establishment. This is because there are still some tiles, roofing shingles, and the like, which carry it.
At the end of the day, it is about remaining vigilant to the possibilities of asbestos exposure. As soon as you suspect that you might have come into contact with it, do not hesitate to undergo asbestos testing. This way, you can protect yourself and take all necessary precautions to avoid getting sick.
MEC has over 25 years in the industry, offering limited and comprehensive sampling for minor and major renovations and demolitions. Our service includes asbestos inspections, asbestos air testing, all the way through the completion of asbestos removal projects. Whether it’s a commercial building, industrial building, or construction project, our licensed asbestos inspectors will create a report of their findings, and develop an abatement plan that will safely remove the asbestos and keep your project on track. Give us a call today, we have seen it all.