Asbestos in Our Home: What Are Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure?

In ancient times, some wealthy Persians used a magic cloth, which was not washed in water but roasted in the fire for a while while stains were being treated.

The cloth was believed to have been made from the fur of an animal called a "salamander", which was said to live in fire and die when exposed to water.

Now, however, it is possible to unravel the mystery of the cloth, which is made from asbestos, a natural mineral with high fire resistance.

When we talk about natural minerals, we often think of lumps like stones, but asbestos comes in the form of fibers, sometimes like cotton.


Aasbestos and Its Applications

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral. There are six different types of asbestos in the world, all of which are composed of long, thin, fibrous crystals.

It is also because of this "fibrous" property that asbestos can be made into cloth. The asbestos fibers break down mechanically at about 815°C (1499°F), but do not break down completely until 1520°C (2768°F), which is difficult for ordinary flame to reach.


In addition to its high fire resistance, asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator and is resistant to corrosion. These unique physical properties make asbestos useful in many applications.

In ancient times, it was used as a permanent wick in ancient tombs, as well as in porcelain and fire-resistant cloth, but few people actually mined asbestos in large quantities.

In the industrial age, the use of asbestos exploded. In the 1880s, the global production of asbestos was around 50 tons per year, which was directly increased to 30,000 tons in the 1990s.


By 1977, world asbestos demand was at its peak, with about 25 countries producing nearly 4.8 million tons of asbestos a year and 85 countries producing thousands of asbestos products.

Most of these products are construction-related, including flame retardant paint, concrete, brick, plumbing and fireplace partitions, and almost every part of a house contains asbestos.


The application of asbestos outside the building includes the heat insulation of high temperature objects such as fires, some electric heating products like electric pots, irons and so on, as well as gloves and other fire products.

However, the dangers of asbestos soon became apparent. Many people developed cancer as a result of prolonged exposure to asbestos.


What Are Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure?

More recently, though, the dangers of asbestos only came to light in 1897, when an Austrian doctor blamed breathing asbestos dust for lung problems in one of his patients.

But in fact, the dangers of asbestos have been documented for a long time. Both ancient Greece and Rome used asbestos, and they both documented the effects of asbestos on those who mined and processed it.

It was then discovered that miners who mined and processed asbestos suffered from a serious lung disease, which was clearly linked to asbestos.


It has been documented that asbestos miners used a membrane from goat bladders to make filters to reduce the amount of asbestos inhaled, much like masks do today.

This lung disease, now known as asbestosis, can also cause lung cancer, though not in the way many people think.

Asbestos does not continue to accumulate in the food chain, as some carcinogenic chemicals do, nor does it pose a cancer risk, as some radiation hazards do.

In fact, the harm of asbestos comes from the ingestion of the human body, it can not be discharged in the body, thus causing tissue and organ lesions. Both ingestion and inhalation of asbestos are harmful to the human body. 

Each asbestos fiber is made up of a number of microscopic "fibrils" that can be released into the air through processes such as wear and tear.


Once ingested, these "fibrils" accumulate in lung tissue or the lining of membranes in the body and gradually cause cells to die, leading to cancer over time.

Asbestos-related cancers include mesothelioma, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer, and so on. Many people may not associate asbestos with cancer because it can take a long time to casue cancer, sometimes as long as 20 years.

A study published in 2017 claimed that asbestos exposure was responsible for around 237,000 deaths worldwide each year; Then, in 2018, a survey of deaths from asbestos exposure in 2016 reported 222,321 deaths, including 39,275 in the United States.

Why Are We Still Being Exposed to Asbestos?

On October 27, 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined all six types of asbestos as Group 1 carcinogens, but asbestos has not been completely banned.

A survey has found that 125 million people around the world are at risk from occupational exposure to asbestos, and many more are at risk from exposure to asbestos products.

In fact, asbestos has been banned since the 1970s. The first country to ban asbestos was Australia, which banned crocidolite in 1967 and amosite (two of the most dangerous types of asbestos fibers) in the mid-1980s, although Australia has yet to completely ban asbestos.


So far, 66 countries around the world have completely banned the use of asbestos, while others have restricted the use scope of asbestos and specified standards for asbestos use.


To this day, the health risks associated with asbestos remain serious because of the legacy of asbestos use, in addition to the occupational exposure of many people.

It has been reported that more than 50% of houses in the UK still contain asbestos, which is a potential risk, despite the fact that the use of asbestos products was completely banned in the UK in 1985.

If your house still remains asbestos or asbestos products, it's necessary to use some air purifying machine, such as air purifier to protect yourself from exposure to asbestos. 

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