The set of silicate minerals which is commercially used for their desirable physical properties is known as Asbestos. The word asbestos comes from the ancient Greek meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”. The term asbestos is traceable to Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder’s manuscript Natural History, and his use of the term asbestinon, meaning “unquenchable”.
Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability.
It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hot plate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement (resulting in fiber cement) or woven into fabric or mats.
Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause asbestos, pleural disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibers inhaled and the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.