What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a durable, versatile mineral that was used in over 5,000 applications and/or processes. Because it is both heat-resistant and inert (generally non-reactive with chemicals), asbestos was used as a key component in products ranging from fireproof gear to building materials, in industries ranging from construction to shipbuilding.
However, asbestos’ fibers are also extremely toxic when disturbed, airborne and inhaled. In fact, asbestos exposure can cause a number of serious, incurable and generally fatal diseases, including various types of cancer.
Materials Containing Asbestos
Asbestos exposure occurred when asbestos was damaged, removed, or installed, and asbestos fibers were released into the air. Keep in mind that intact asbestos is not harmful—only its airborne fibers are, as they are easy to inhale without notice.
Following is a list of some common products and substances that typically contain asbestos:
Given the wide range of asbestos uses (only a few of which are listed above), many people unknowingly experience asbestos exposure at some point in their lives. However, only those who endure prolonged asbestos exposure are likely to develop severe health problems.
High Risk Industries
In most cases, those at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma or asbestos-related cancers are people who work in industries that regularly put them into contact with asbestos fibers. Among these high-risk asbestos industries are:
Individuals who work in the following industrial settings are also at risk of asbestos exposure:
- Ship yards
- Power plants
- Steel mills
- Oil refineries
- Chemical plants
- Aluminum plants