What Is Asbestos?
by Robert Michael
South America and the former Soviet Union.

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos is not just one substance; in fact it can be divided into several different
types, and these types can be divided into two basic groups. These two groups are
serpentine and amphibole. Environmental Health and Safety claims that the serpentine
group only contains one member: chrysotile. This type of asbestos is the most
common form found in buildings and is also known as “white asbestos.”

Both the Asbestos Network and Environmental Health and Safety list five different
types of asbestos within the amphibole group. These five include amosite, crocidolite,
anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Amosite is the second most prevalent type
found in building materials and is also referred to as “brown asbestos.” Crocidolite,
“blue asbestos,” is found in structures where the materials need to be safe from high
temperatures. The final three, anthyphyllite, tremolite, and actinolite, are rarely found.

Problems Related to Asbestos

The Asbestos Network explains that contact with asbestos can cause diseases such
as asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma. The fibrous nature of asbestos causes
much of the problem. The fibers may get caught in the lungs and create lung damage.
Or, they may even be swallowed and become lodged in membranes of the
gastrointestinal track, according to the Asbestos Network. Again, this could lead to
cancer of the lungs or of the GI tract. So while it may be thought that the lungs are
the only place that can be damaged, it is other parts of the body can be negatively
affected by asbestos.

Who is at Risk?

According to the Asbestos Network, the “dose” of asbestos that a person is exposed
to equals the combination of the concentration, or the amount of asbestos in the air,
and the duration, or the length of time that a person is exposed to asbestos. The
more asbestos inhaled, the greater the chance of damage to lungs or other internal
organs. Also, the Network says that cigarette smoking increases the likelihood of
contracting an asbestos disease as it decreases the general health of the lungs. The
Asbestos Network also lists several occupations that may be more likely to suffer
from asbestos created diseases. These occupations include construction work, ship
building, railroad working and automobile engineers.

How To Avoid It

There are several things that those who work around asbestos can do to limit their
contact with the cancer causing fibers. The American Lung Association of Georgia
insists on no eating or drinking while you are working. The Association also urges
workers not to smoke and to follow proper guidelines when handling asbestos.
Employers that place their employees in asbestos filled areas should have the
employees properly trained on how to handle the substance, as well as how to avoid
interacting with it.


About The Author

Robert Michael is a writer for ABE Mesothelioma which is an excellent place to find
mesothelioma links, resources and articles. For more information go to:
What is Asbestos?

According to the Asbestos
Network, asbestos actually
refers to several naturally
occurring minerals. These
minerals have been used in
commercial products to increase
strength and flexibility. The
Asbestos Network claims that
these minerals are a mix of
metals, silicon, oxygen, and
hydrogen. Asbestos, like coal or
gold is mined. Some of the
countries that mine asbestos
include the United Sates, Canada,
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