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Asbestos

About Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.

Exposure to Asbestos

Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.

Dangers of Exposure

Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are:

  • lung cancer
  • mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart
  • asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs
Notes and Image Credits:

Header Image: Under a high magnification of 2000X, this scanning electron micrograph (SEM) revealed some of the microcrystalline ultrastructure exhibited by a piece of raw chrysotile, or white asbestos, which had been excavated from the Lowell Asbestos Mine on Belvidere Mountain, Vermont. (CDC/ John Wheeler, Ph.D., DABT)