Asbestos basically is a composition with six types of minerals that occur naturally. Asbestos fibers are fine, durable and heat-resistant, which makes it a much sought-after raw material for many manufacturers. It is called the ‘miracle mineral’. Manufacturers of products ranging from building materials to fireproof gear use asbestos as a raw material for its ability to resist many chemicals. But the major disadvantage of such a miracle mineral is that it is known to cause fatal diseases such as cancer. Inhaling this mineral has shown proof of damaging the lining wall of lungs which is the base for the survival of a human being. This article discusses the various types of asbestos that cause such fatal diseases.
1. Serpentine Asbestos: It is composed of long and curly fibers with only one mineral named chrysotile which is also called white asbestos. This was the most popular commercially used asbestos in its best form due to its flexible nature. Widespread use all over the U.S has evidence of this causing Pleural Mesothelioma in workers who inhaled this composition during work.
2. Amphibole asbestos: This is composed of the other five minerals namely Amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite. These make asbestos brittle while making it more hazardous than serpentine asbestos. Inhalation or ingestion of amphibole asbestos is through natural deposits and is evident of causing pleural mesothelioma.
The most dangerous category of pleural mesothelioma is malignant pleural mesothelioma. This is a fatal cancer caused by occupational exposure, secondary exposure, and environmental exposure.
1. Occupational Exposure: It is the exposure that happens when the person comes in contact with asbestos at work. This is the most common cause and happens usually with blue collar jobs that came before the 1980s. That was when federal laws started restricting the use of asbestos for commercial purposes. Those working in shipyards, construction, power plants are the most common workplaces for such an exposure.
2. Secondary Exposure: This is the disease occurring in the family members of the workers. Those men who were working in factories came home with dirty clothes which had deposits of the fiber. This enhanced exposure on other people at home like the women who used to clean the clothes or others who would inhale the air at the place where the clothes were placed. Unknowingly, they were exposed to the fatal component.
Environmental Exposure: This is the indirect exposure which caused pollution or natural deposition. Inhalation through natural deposits was through gardening, riding a bicycle which is known to disturb those fibers which are static letting people inhale it. Also, if there is asbestos mining or manufacturing unit nearby then you are sure to get exposed to the fibers that mix up in the environment. It is also known to cause air and soil pollution.
Breathing asbestos doesn’t cause any harm in a day or two. In other words, it affects the human system after years of exposure. It may be anywhere between 10 to 50 years. This period is called the long latency period and those exposed before the 1980s when government regulations were limited to control such a fatal exposure are experiencing the symptoms now. However, the government has been successful in bringing out the right rules and regulations to help the victims of asbestos. Those who have suffered the disease or have already died due to such a health concern are eligible for asbestosis claims from their company. There are laws to govern such a claim and victims are able to live a better life.
Though in the US asbestos is not banned there are strict regulations by environmental protection Agency and the government itself to reduce or nullify the fatal exposure. It is allowed to be used in products which have a history of containing the mineral in them. No new product or invention is allowed to use asbestos anywhere in the world. Those permitted products can be made only if there is no availability of a substituted compound. Hence, every manufacturer should abide by the rules of law when using asbestos for commercial purposes otherwise they are entitled to strict legal actions which may even lead to long-term punishments along with the seizure of their business.