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Whats surprising and/or interesting about asbestos - Essay Example

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Its major deposits are located in the US, Russia, Canada, and South Africa. Asbestos has several properties because of which its several uses have been developed in industries; its heat and corrosion…
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Whats surprising and/or interesting about asbestos
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Asbestos Introduction
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral across most part of the world. Its major deposits are located in the US, Russia, Canada, and South Africa. Asbestos has several properties because of which its several uses have been developed in industries; its heat and corrosion resistant properties make it highly important material in making of several products. Not only it has a very good insulation property but also its fibers are flexible enough to spun, weave, and bind with other materials. Being an inexpensive material, engineers have been able to find its several uses. The paper attempts to explore some good and bad characteristics of asbestos.
Applications
Asbestos has numerous uses developed over several thousand years; however, its importance increased in the beginning of the twentieth century along with rapid industrial progress. One of the large uses of asbestos has been found as an insulating material in steam engines. Some of the other uses of asbestos can be described as automotive brake and clutch linings, plastics, asbestos roofing, asbestos-cement pipes, as insulation for heat pipes, heat exchangers, hot water heaters and boilers, in gloves and curtains. It is also used as fireproofing material. Asbestos was used as spray painting before 1978. Its use in the US peaked during ‘70s when over 800,000 metric tons of asbestos was consumed; however, that subsequently went down to merely 14,600 tons in year 2000 (Vogel, 2005).
Health Risks
Apart from several excellent properties that asbestos is known to have, it has some serious health hazards too. Inhaling asbestos fibers cause a serious threat to health. Since fibers float in the air for a long time, there are very high chances of workers inhaling it when industrial unit uses asbestos as one of the major material. It has capacity to penetrate body tissues when exposed for a long time. It is true that intact asbestos does not pose any health risk; the mere presence of asbestos does not cause any serious health issues (Asbestos Awareness Program).
Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a chronic respiratory illness that occurs due to deposition of asbestos fibers in lungs and occurs due to prolonged exposure to asbestos. These fibers cause scar tissues on the air sacs in the lungs reducing lung capacity that subsequently results into shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing. With the progression of disease, the person begins experiencing shortness of breath even at rest. This typically occurs to the workers who have been exposed to asbestos fibers over a long period. Usually, it takes 20 to 30 years for the disease to reach at its peak (Asbestos Awareness Program).
Cancer Disease
The persons suffering from asbestosis are found at higher risk of lung cancer. Workers exposed to a very high level of asbestos concentration at work or mines or industries such as shipbuilding, milling, fabricating usually get affected with one or other kind of cancer.
Exposure to asbestos for a prolonged time causes respiratory diseases, lung cancer, stomach or colon cancer. It enters human body through inhalation and ingestion (Asbestos Awareness Program).
Conclusion
It is amply clear that asbestos is one of the most versatile materials with some extraordinary properties attached to it; however, it is equally true that asbestos poses a significant health hazard. With increasing exposure to asbestos, the risk of asbestosis and cancer increases. This is the reason why its use in the US and other countries has been on decline.
References
Asbestos Awareness Program. Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management. Radford
University. Retrieved April 22, 2014 from http://www.radford.edu/content/ehs/home/programs/industrial-hygiene/asbestos.html
Vogel, L. (2005). Asbestos in the world: HESA Newsletter. European Trade Union Institute for
Research. Read More
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