What exactly is Asbestos?

Many people have heard stories about distinguishing asbestos and the dangers it presents. But so few people understand what exactly asbestos is. To help you understand what asbestos is, and why you need to know if your property has asbestos, we’re going to look at this material, its properties, and its potential risks. 

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a silicate mineral that gets its name from the ancient Greek word meaning ‘inextinguishable, unquenchable or inconsumable’. It has been used in construction throughout history for its non-flammable and durable nature. However, the fibrous and brittle nature of asbestos has led to many injuries and medically-related deaths. This makes it incredibly dangerous for use in modern builds. As a result, this material is no longer used for construction. However, it can still be present in existing buildings and older homes.

Asbestos is the general name for a family of fibrous silicate minerals called chrysolite, amosite, and crocidolite. These minerals are unique in that they have both crystalline and fibrous structures giving them their durable and fire-resistant properties. The fibrous nature also makes asbestos easy to form into other forms. For example, it can be spun or woven like a fabric that is great for acoustic dampening, condensation protection, and reinforcement. 

Distinguishing Asbestos

Blue Asbestos 

Crocidolite is a blue-tinged asbestos used for a variety of applications from spray-on coatings, to insulation and reinforcement. This form of asbestos isn’t as common as other forms but is still dangerous. If you find damaged asbestos in your structure, there is a chance tiny fibres break off and float in the air. If you inhale these tiny fibres, it can cause multiple medical issues as they become lodged in the lungs and other organs. 

Brown Asbestos 

Amosite asbestos is a brownish asbestos that is the most commonly found in structures like cement sheets and pipe insulation. Much like other forms of asbestos, brown asbestos has been linked to medical conditions like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Brown asbestos and blue asbestos line up in short needle-like fibres.

White Asbestos

Chrysotile, or white asbestos, is a varied form of asbestos found in three forms (chrysotile asbestos, tremolite asbestos and actinolite asbestos). This asbestos, much like brown or blue, is used in ceilings, walls, roofs and floors. The only difference between white asbestos and other asbestos is the serpentine structure. This differs from the short needle-like fibres and makes it easier to spin and weave thanks to its serpentine shape.

Why Asbestos is Dangerous

Since the 1980s, asbestos inhalation has been linked to a variety of serious ailments including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. These fibres can be inhaled and can cause irreparable damage to airways and organs. It can lead to dangerous conditions like Mesothelioma, lung cancer, Asbestosis, and Pleural thickening.

The symptoms of asbestos inhalation can become apparent in a very short period of time. It can also stay dormant for decades before showing up as health issues later in life. This means that even after 20-30 years of banning asbestos, medical issues relating to asbestos exposure are still popping up. In fact, the HSE estimated in 2016 alone that there were 2,595 mesothelioma cases. 

Get the Ultimate Peace of Mind

Asbestos is a serious concern, even after being banned in construction. The widespread use of this material in older buildings means that the threat of asbestos is still very real. 

At Midlands Asbestos Solutions, we use our years of experience and expertise to find, test and remove all harmful asbestos deposits on time and budget. If you’re interested in finding out more about asbestos and how we can help you protect your property, please contact us now for a free, no-obligation quotation. Our team of friendly experts is waiting to help you with any asbestos needs.