What exactly is asbestos and what makes it dangerous?
In the twentieth century, asbestos was called the “miracle fiber” and found its way into thousands of household and industrial products. In fact, asbestos could be found in an estimated 3,000 different products. Some of these products include:
- Vinyl flooring
- Patching compounds
- Textured paints
- Acoustic ceiling tiles
- Stove insulation
- Furnace insulation
- Pipe insulation
- Wall & ceiling insulation
- Roofing shingles & siding
- Home appliances
- Fire-retardant clothing
- Cement pipe
- And more
Figure A: Chrysotile Asbestos, The most common form. Photo: New York State department of Environmental Conservation
Over time, mesothelioma and asbestos were found to share a common correlation. Such widespread exposure to asbestos has injured generations of workers and created a mountain of litigation that has driven numerous American companies to seek refuge in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, the media has only recently begun to cover asbestos information focusing on exposure and its medical as well as economic impact. The 2005 indictments of W.R. Grace Executives, for failing to protect their workers and the general public from exposure to asbestos-tainted vermiculite, has succeeded in making asbestos poisoning prime time news.
Explore More Asbestos Information
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation offers resources on mesothelioma and asbestos information. Browse this list of Frequently Asked Questions about asbestos for more detailed information:
- What is Asbestos? Asbestos is the name given to a set of six naturally occurring fibrous materials. Once a common building material, Asbestos has been linked to a number of different types of cancers, including mesothelioma …
- What are the six types of Asbestos? There are currently six types of asbestos minerals: Actinolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Chrysotile, Crocidolite, Tremolite. However, the term asbestos doesn't include all the possible fibrous mineral forms of impure magnesium silicate that behave like asbestos. While they may not be considered "Asbestos," many of these other fibrous minerals are though to be just as carcinogenic;
- How long has asbestos been around and how long have we known it is dangerous? The history of asbestos use dates way back before the first century. And throughout history, asbestos has been identified as a useful material in any number of building applications. For all its wonderful properties, early asbestos research also proved that this naturally occurring material could be linked to a number of respiratory diseases;
- Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure? Asbestos was at one time a common building material; and because of this, just about anyone could potentially come in contact with the mineral. There are however a number occupations in the construction, mechanical, and ship building industries where the potential for exposure increases. Due to the risk for secondary exposure, or take home asbestos exposure, family members and other household members also may be placed at risk.
Learn more asbestos information, the dangers of asbestos exposure, and who is at risk. Contact the Meso Foundation for expert help and a free copy of the book "100 Questions & Answers About Mesothelioma."