What is asbestos you ask? Well asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals that can be separated into fibers. The fibers are strong, durable, and resistant to heat and fire. They are also long, thin, and flexible, so that they can even be woven into cloth. Because of these qualities, asbestos has been used in thousands if consumer, industrial, maritime, automotive, scientific and building products. During the twentieth century, some 30 million tons of asbestos were used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings in the United States.
There are several types of asbestos fibers, of which three have been used for commercial applications: (1) Chrysotile, or white asbestos, comes mainly from Canada, and has been very widely used in the US. It is white-gray in color and found in serpentine rock. (2) Amosite, or brown asbestos, comes from southern Africa. (3) Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, comes from southern Africa or Australia. Amosite and crocidolite are called amphiboles. This term refers to the nature of their geologic formation. Other asbestos fibers that have not been used commercially are tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite, although they are sometimes contaminants in asbestos-containing products.
What are asbestos containing products? What is common to many asbestos-containing products is that they were used to contain heat (i.e. thermal insulation). It is impossible to list all of the products that have, at one time or another, contained asbestos. Some of the more common asbestos-containing products are pipe-covering, insulating cement, insulating block, asbestos cloth, gaskets, patching materials, thermal seals, refractory and boiler insulation material, transit board. Some more materials are asbestos cement pipe, fireproofing spray, joint compound, vinyl floor tile, ceiling tile, mastics, adhesives, coatings, acoustical textures, duct installation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, roofing products, insulated electrical wire and panels, and brake and cloth assemblies. Some of these products contained a very high proportion of asbestos, while others contained small amounts.
Some people may ask why is asbestos still a problem. Well asbestos is still a problem. It’s because a great deal of it has been used In the United States and elsewhere. Also because many asbestos containing products remain in buildings, ship, industrial facilities and other environment where the fibers can become airborne, and because of the serious human health hazards of inhaling asbestos fibers.
Asbestos in the home can be very dangerous. It is very common for homes built or remodeled before the 1970’s to have asbestos-containing materials in them. During the twentieth century, about 30 million tons of asbestos fibers were used in the United States, and some of this asbestos ended up in residential buildings. If you have purchased a home or are considering the purchase...