Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral, most commonly found in serpentinite, ultramafic, and mafic rocks. When these rocks are crushed open, asbestos can be gathered. In the past, asbestos was used in many industrial, commercial, and construction materials. It was chosen for these types materials because of its strong resistance to chemicals and heat, its strength and durability, affordability, and for its low electrical current. There are several assorted types of asbestos, consisting of six primary subtypes.
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Tremolite: Tremolite asbestos is generally found in certain talcum powders, but usually wasn’t used commercially. Additionally, this type of asbestos was used in vermiculite as well as products containing vermiculite. Tremolite is in the family of amphibole asbestos; a mineral with long and thin fibers. Colors range from dark green to off-white.
Amosite: Amosite asbestos is commonly known as “brown asbestos” because of its brownish-gray color. Amosite was the 2nd most frequently used asbestos commercially, and also of one the deadliest, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was widely used in thermal insulation products, ceiling tiles, spray coatings, and motor industry asbestos plastics.
Chrysotile: The serpentine asbestos chrysotile was the most commonly used asbestos in the United States. It’s often referred to as “white asbestos” because of its color, and according to the EPA, is another one of the most deadliest types of asbestos. Additionally, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, chrysotile has been confirmed to be linked to malignant mesothelioma and other forms of asbestos cancer. Chrysotile was mainly used sheets, pipes, and shingles. Other additional products that may contain chrysotile are textiles, rubber sealants, brake pads for motor vehicles, textiles, and asphalt.
Crocidolite: Crocidolite, also referred to as “blue asbestos,” was used the least commercially. However, crocidolite is the most harmful type of asbestos in the amphibole group. Crocidolite was mined by workers, usually in Australia and South Africa. According to the EPA, at least 18% of those miners have died from the long-term exposure. This type of asbestos was used mainly for cement products due its ability to add durability and strength. It was rarely used for fire resistance or insulation as this type of asbestos is not nearly as heat resistant as some of the more popular types.
Anthophyllite: Anthophyllite is another type of asbestos in the amphibole family. It’s one of the lesser-known asbestos, yet it can be just as dangerous if inhaled. Anthophyllite’s long and sharp fibers are easily ingested and can get lodged in the chest area. This type of asbestos has been linked to lung cancer. It can be found in talc mines all across the world.
Actinolite: Although actinolite was rarely used commercially, it has been found in certain paint products, sealants, drywalls, and even toys. Part of the amphibole group, actinolite is dense and brittle, and can be easily ingested and become stuck in the chest and abdominal area. Long term exposure has been linked to both lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Since the 1970s, it has been known that asbestos was dangerous for humans, especially those who are prolonged to it for a long period of time. Many manufacturers stopped using it after the health risks and mesothelioma symptoms came to light.
In some instances, however, asbestos manufacturers continued to put workers in danger by exposing them daily to the harmful materials. Because of this, millions have suffered and continue to suffer from the adverse effects of asbestos. Thousands of new asbestos victims surface each year, plagued with deadly diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and more.
Even though asbestos has been banned from being used in most places of employment in the United States and other countries, it can still be found in many homes, schools, and buildings that were built before the law prevented its use. The most common places asbestos can be found is in ceiling and floor tiles, pipe and boiler insulation, shingles, plasters, and joint compounds.
If you work or live in a building that was built prior to the mid 1980s, you should never do anything that will aggravate asbestos fibers, such as drilling, cutting, hammering or sawing in areas where asbestos is located. If you need parts repaired or removed from these type houses and buildings, a certified asbestos abatement professional should be contacted.
Employers who have workers that are exposed to asbestos in current times must follow strict federally-mandated requirements with no exceptions. All workers must be exposed to no more than 0.1 fibers of asbestos per cubic feet during a normal work shift, typically 8 hours.
Rotating different employees to meet this guideline is strictly prohibited. Additionally, all workers who can potentially come in contact with a even small amount of asbestos must be able to get a medical exam every 30 days, provided by their employers. Furthermore, protective clothing and hygiene products must be available at all times.
Although it’s much more rare these days for workers to come into contact with asbestos, it continues to happen when older buildings, insulation, flooring, and other parts containing asbestos need to be repaired or replaced.
If any part of your home or a building that could potentially contain asbestos has been damaged, you should not clean up or repair the damages yourself. Contact your local Safety and Health Administration. Employees who deal with asbestos have been professionally trained and are protected while working around the dangerous fibers.
Getting Legal Help
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, there is a good chance you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Remember to fill out our form to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area.