What is Asbestos and How Does it Affect Your Health?
When you find that you need to hire an asbestos removal company, one of the first questions you might find yourself asking is just what is this stuff and what’s so bad about it. Make no mistake, asbestos is dangerous stuff and is hazardous to your health. But to answer your curiosity, here is a little bit about this mineral and what it can do to your body.
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, all of which form long, thin fibrous crystals. In the late 19th century, it was discovered that asbestos was good for sound absorption, resistant to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and was very affordable. It began to be used quite frequently for electrical insulation and in building insulation. When it is used for resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into mats or fabric.
Sounds like great stuff, right? It’s heat and fire resistant, dampens sound, and is even resistant to electrical and chemical damage. Unfortunately, asbestos has a real negative influence on the human body when it is inhaled. This was discovered in the 1970s, and the use of asbestos was banned in the United States shortly afterwards.
You still might find yourself exposed to asbestos, especially in Canada or in the US in homes built before the 1970s. You’ll often find asbestos in attic and wall insulation, vinyl floor tiles, and the walls and floors around wood-burning stoves. Hot water and steam pipes are sometimes coated with asbestos or covered with asbestos blankets or tape. These are just a few of the places where you might come in contact with asbestos.
So what does it do? Basically, when you inhale the fibres, most of the fibres get expelled when you breathe out. Unfortunately, some of them get lodged in your lungs permanently, and can’t ever get out. As a result of these trapped fibres, you find yourself more at risk for lung disease. Your risk for lung cancer is heightened as a result of exposure to asbestos, and you can also contract asbestosis or mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that shows up in the thin lining of the lung, chest, abdomen and heart. It’s quite aggressive, and is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases. Asbestosis, on the other hand, is not a form of cancer, but is a chronic lung disease resulting from the scarring caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
Some symptoms to watch out for include chronic coughing, shortness of breath, and other breathing problems. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you should be tested for cancer and other asbestos-related health concerns. You should also minimize your exposure to asbestos by avoiding disturbing the fibres. If you need to remodel your home, you should hire a professional asbestos removal contractor to remove the asbestos before you begin doing any work on your home.