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Table Of Contents

What is Asbestos:

This term refers to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. The compositions of all six minerals are long, thin and fibrous. Each fiber is again composed with microscopic fibrils. These fibrils can be released into the air by many processes. Abrasion is most common among them. These fibers are so flexible and thin that they can be woven easily. The basic qualities are heat resistance and electric insulation.

Historical Usage

  • Prehistoric Age: Archaeological studies prove the possible use of asbestos in the Stone Age, from around 4000 BC. The word asbestos comes from ancient Greek and means “inextinguishable”. The substance was once used within wicks in oil lamps and candles and was praised for its longevity under a flame. Gradually, its use began to spread all over the world. In Finland around 3000 BC it was used it for strengthening earthen pots. In Ancient Egypt it was used to embalm bodies in their mummification process.
  • Middle Age: In the Middle Ages asbestos was mainly used for its aid in fire resistance. It was woven into the fabric worn under the armor of soldiers and knights, for its added protection. It was also used in the creation of writing paper for the most important of news.
  • Industrial Age: The 19th century was the period when industries started to grow because of the industrial revolution. The large-scale mining ofasbestos began to boom at this time, and mining started all over the world. During this time is when you really see the commercial application of asbestos begin. During World War I and II, it was used almost everywhere in the construction of army camps. Gradually it became a common building material, other many other industries adopted its use.
  • Current Situation: Nowadays this mineral is restricted in most developed countries. Still, many constructions that were built in the 1950s to 1980s still have asbestos in various forms hidden within the building, including: Roof Sheeting, Floor Tiles, Fireplace Area, Plaster, Texture Coating, and more.


The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recognized six naturally occurring minerals and divided those into two groups: Amphibole and Serpentine.


The fibers of the amphibole group are long, thin and straight. It is well known as blue or brown asbestos. There are five types in this category:

  • Crocidolite
  • Amosite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Tremolite
  • Actinolite


The fibers of the serpentine group are long, thin and curly. It is so thin and flexible that it can be woven as fabric. There is only one member in this group:

  • Chrysotile

Industries that Use Asbestos

There are so many industries that use these minerals on regular basis, and workers are at high risk and exposed to this deadly mineral.

  • Mining Industries: Minerals like talc are very likely to get contaminated because talc and asbestos can be found in the same place.
  • Power Plants: This is a great electric insulator. This is the reason most power plants use asbestos in their builds.
  • Construction Companies: Asbestos cement, floor tiles filler, roof sheeting, pipes, fireplace protective sheets, and electric insulators are the most common products which contain asbestos in construction sites.
  • Shipyards: While building ships, workers were very likely exposed to this toxic mineral. Fireproofing and electric insulation was the main area where these particles were widely spread.
  • Tile Installation: In many places this was used as a filler while installing tiles on the wall.
  • Asbestos Removal Companies: While removing such particles from any construction sites, people are at high risk of exposure.

Health Risks

Medical studies proved that exposure towards or inhaling these dust for a long period of time can be very dangerous and can lead us to various health conditions. There are 4 types of cancer and other diseases that can result from the inhalation of asbestos.


These minerals are the only cause of this deadly cancer. Inhaling this for a long time can lead to asbestos is, which gradually transforms into mesothelioma.

Lung Cancer:

It can take over a decade to show the symptoms of lung cancer, but it takes only a few months to spread once taken root. While inhaling this dust, the microscopic particles get stuck into the lung tissues and increases the risk of cancer.

Laryngeal Cancer:

Laryngeal cancer affects the larynx, that is our voice box. During the process of inhaling these dust particles, they can get stuck in our throat. If it gets stuck and builds up over a long period of time, there is a high chance of developing cancer tissues.

Ovarian Cancer:

There is a chance of developing ovarian cancer if people are using asbestos contaminated talcum powder.

Other Related Diseases:

There are several non-cancerous diseases that can occur if an individual is exposed to asbestos for long periods.

  • Asbestosis: This is a type of inflammation in the lung tissues. It can happen if these particles are stuck in the lung tissues for a long time.
  • Pleurisy: Pleurisy is also an inflammation that occurs in pleura. Inhaling such materials can lead to pleurisy.

Despite all these potential health hazards, many countries are still using this deadly mineral is day to day business. On the other hand, lots of developed countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have completely stopped using these. There are regulations and laws to follow while dealing with such minerals.

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