Most people are primarily concerned with the dangers of asbestos in their home. For those who live in houses and apartment buildings that were constructed prior to the 1988 ban and asbestos phase-out, this is a reasonable concern. However, you may not be aware that asbestos has been found in places that you may rarely encounter. Nonetheless, you should be aware of these surprising sources of asbestos.
Even a small amount of contact with asbestos can cause you to develop severe health problems and even cancers such as mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, throat, esophageal, and kidney. Thus, although you definitely do not want to have dangerous asbestos in your home where you spend the most time, you may not want to risk going into a building that may have asbestos. Some people are more susceptible to the carcinogen than others, and one encounter may be all you need.
The reason for the widespread presence of asbestos is because it does have several potentially life-saving characteristics. Asbestos is a member of the silicate mineral family. Silicates are known for their insulating capabilities; it resists heat, flame, chemicals, and electricity. Additionally, asbestos itself has the enviable properties of high tensile strength and flexibility, which means that it is easily added to materials that need some of these resistant capabilities.
Due to these properties, it’s no surprise that asbestos was added to virtually every part of a building before we fully realized its dangers. In the construction industry, asbestos became a component of insulation, vinyl flooring, counter tops, ceiling tiles, roofing tar and shingles, and even fire doors. Asbestos also plays a part in the automotive and shipping industries.
Many people may think that after the asbestos ban and phase-out was issued, the buildings around them are now safe from this toxin. However, technically only friable asbestos presents a danger. Friable asbestos is able to flake off into microscopic fibers, which allows you to inhale or ingest them. Thus, while most friable asbestos has been replaced, even non-friable asbestos can become damaged over time and release their carcinogenic fibers.