Our concern for the air quality inside our homes should increase as we spend more time inside. Whether it’s a new home or an older home, depending on where and when it was built, the dangers can include asbestos.
In the United States, asbestos deposits are mainly found in the western and eastern coastal states. The State of Virginia is ranked number 11 for mesothelioma & asbestosis deaths. What is asbestos? Why is it so dangerous?
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a silicate mineral composed of soft and flexible microscopic fibers that occur naturally in the environment. It began to be used in many industries when it was discovered to be resistant to heat, electricity, chemicals, and corrosion.
These characteristics made asbestos ideal to be used in products like:
- Fire-resistant protective clothing
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Electrical insulation
- Cement pipes
- Brake linings
- Other insulating materials
Types of Asbestos
Six types of minerals are classified as asbestos. These six are split into two categories due to the shape of the microfibers.
The first category, identified as amphibole asbestos, have a straight, jagged shape and include:
- Crocidolite (Blue asbestos)
- Amosite (Brown asbestos)
The second category, identified as serpentine asbestos, is curly. There is only one type of this mineral, Chrysotile, which is also known as white asbestos. Chrysolite accounts for about 95% of the asbestos used worldwide.
What Makes Asbestos Dangerous?
The same characteristics that made asbestos such a widely used material are also what make it so dangerous. Since it’s so resistant, asbestos exposure can be highly toxic.
The microscopic fibers that makeup asbestos can be released into the atmosphere when it’s disturbed in the environment or from products containing it. When asbestos is inhaled or ingested, the mineral fibers can get permanently trapped in the body.
Ban on Asbestos
The dangers of asbestos gained public recognition in the 1970s. Due to the health hazards of asbestos dust, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started regulating the material, which eventually led to the prohibition of asbestos
Diseases Caused by Asbestos
The consequences of being exposed to asbestos can sometimes take decades to start showing. Depending on the level of exposure and time, the asbestos fibers that became trapped in the body can lead to inflammation, scarring, and eventually genetic damage.
Asbestos exposure is associated with different types of cancer that include:
- Mesothelioma. A rare but aggressive malignant tumor almost exclusive to asbestos exposure. These tumors can show up forms in the lining of the lungs, the abdomen, or the heart.
- Lung cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Air Quality Testing For Asbestos in Virginia
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