This entry was submitted by Chris Visser, creator and founder of Treat Mesothelioma


 

What is Asbestos?

 

Asbestos is a dangerous group of natural minerals that are layered and made completely of microscopic fibers.  This dangerous mineral was very commonly used in buildings, roofing, flooring and all types of insulation materials. To be direct, that only scratches the surface… Asbestos was mined at a global scale, processed and used in hundreds of other products around the world.

 

Types of Asbestos

There are six different types of asbestos minerals, which are categorized by their color and fiber-type. Although they are all different in their own way, they all have something very much in common and this characteristic is what put these minerals so high in demand.

Asbestos fibers are so durable that they are resistant to many different chemicals but it was their heat and fire resistant capabilities that made them so popular.

Nowadays however, due to its danger to human health, asbestos is no longer used in the construction industry. Please beware, homes and buildings constructed before the year 1990, may still have asbestos in them and home owners should take extreme caution in this.

As mentioned earlier, there are six types of asbestos minerals:

  1. Actinolite has a dark color with fibers of a straight shape. This mineral was commonly used in the construction industry, usually combined with vermiculite for insulation.
  2. Amosite is brown in color, with straighter and shorter fibers. This type of mineral was primarily sourced in South Africa.
  3. Anthophyllite is an asbestos mineral found in Georgia, North Caroline, and Finland as well. This mineral was the less used when compared to other asbestos minerals in the building industry.
  4. Chrysolite fibers are the longest ones, and curly as well. About 90% of asbestos fibers used in the world commercially belong to chrysolite. Asbestosis usually develops due to inhalation of chrysolite fibers.
  5. Tremolite is a mineral commonly found alongside other minerals like vermiculite, talc or even chrysotile.
  6. Crocidolite is often known as blue asbestos has very thin fibers. This is the most harmful type of asbestos minerals, which due to its nature easily penetrates the human tissue. Crocidolite fibers are less resistant to heat when compared to other asbestos minerals.

 

Who Is Most At Risk To Asbestos Exposure?

Some people have a greater risk than others when it comes to asbestos exposure and this is usually due to occupation. Plumbers, builders, painters, carpenters, and electricians are at a greater risk, together with people who worked in factories that produced asbestos products such as railway engineers, shipbuilders, factory workers, etc.

Asbestos has been linked to be the sole cause of asbestosis and the development of mesothelioma, a rare type of malignant cancer, which is caused by either inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers.

Even if a person does not hold a job title that is known for exposing it’s employees to asbestos, second-hand exposure is very common.  If a person lives or associates themselves with someone who worked around asbestos, they are also at a very risk of developing mesothelioma.

What To Know Before You Go

Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers is very hazardous to a person’s health. One of the main complications with this disease is the prolonged period (latency) of the cancer’s development after the initial exposure to it.

It takes several years and mostly decades for mesothelioma or asbestosis to develop. On average, it usually takes between 20 to 50 years to even notice the signs of it’s development. At the beginning stages, the symptoms of this disease are very subtle and look very similar to the symptoms associated with common colds, stomach viruses, and respiratory system problems. 

This similarity tends to lead to a wide variety of misdiagnoses and much like any other health problem, if you let it go untreated for a long period of time, it will only get worse.  Whether or not you or a loved one appear to show any signs of these mesothelioma symptoms, if you have ever been exposed to asbestos, it is vital that you see your doctor and get screened for mesothelioma right away.

Sources:

  1. Types of Asbestos Exposure. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Accessed at: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/asbestos/types of exposure/
  2. Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk. National Cancer Institute. Accessed at: www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/asbestos/asbestos-fact-sheet
  3. Mesothelioma. The University of Chicago Medicine. Accessed at: www.uchospitals.edu/specialties/cancer/mesothelioma/
  4. Mesothelioma Symptoms: TreatMesothelioma.org – YouTube. Accessed at:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYEMwv95BmU