Asbestos Lung Cancer risk is common unfortunately.
Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of fibers. These fibers are found in soil and rocks in many parts of the world. They are made mainly of silicon and oxygen, but they also contain other elements. There are 2 main types of asbestos:
- Chrysotile asbestos, also known as white asbestos, is the most common type of asbestos in industrial applications. When looked at under the microscope, chrysotile asbestos fibers wrap around themselves in a spiral, which is why this form of asbestos is also called serpentine or curly asbestos.
- Amphibole asbestos fibers are straight and needle-like. There are several types of amphibole fibers, including amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite.
Both types of asbestos have been linked with cancer.
Asbestos fibers can be useful because they are strong, resistant to heat and to many chemicals, and do not conduct electricity. As a result, asbestos has been used as an insulating material since ancient times. Since the industrial revolution, asbestos has been used to insulate factories, schools, homes, and ships, and to make automobile brake and clutch parts, roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, cement, textiles, and hundreds of other products.
During the first half of the 20th century, growing evidence showed that breathing in asbestos caused scarring of the lungs. Exposure to asbestos dust in the workplace was not controlled at that time. Beginning in England in the 1930s, steps were taken to protect workers in the asbestos industry by installing ventilation and exhaust systems. However, in the huge shipbuilding effort during World War II, large numbers of workers were exposed to high levels of asbestos.
As asbestos-related cancers became better recognized in the second half of the 20th century, measures were taken to reduce exposure, including establishing exposure standards and laws that banned the use of asbestos in construction materials. There has been a dramatic decrease in importing and using asbestos in the United States since the mid-1970s, and alternative insulating materials have been developed. As a result, asbestos exposure has dropped dramatically. However, it’s still used in some products, and it’s still possible to be exposed to asbestos in older buildings, water pipes, and other settings. Asbestos use has been banned in the European Union since 2005, although the ban did not require removal of asbestos that was already in place. Still, heavy asbestos use continues in some countries.