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Top 10 questions answered about Asbestos that are most commonly asked

1.  What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral composed of flexible fibres resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. These qualities make it a preferable choice in most common places where humans interact; however, later, it was realized that exposure to Asbestos is toxic and mesothelioma cancer is exclusively caused by Asbestos.
(Asbestos.com, n.d.)

2.  What is Asbestos made of?

There are six types of fibres; Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite. These fibres tend to possess good strength properties (e.g., high tensile strength, wear and friction characteristics); flexibility (e.g., the ability to be woven); excellent thermal properties (e.g., heat stability; thermal, electrical and acoustic insulation); adsorption capacity; and resistance to chemical, thermal and biological degradation.

(Asbestos (Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite), 2012)

3.  Does Asbestos Cause Cancer?

If asbestos products are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibres are released. When asbestos fibres are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, accumulated asbestos fibers can cause tissue inflammation and scarring, affecting breathing and severe health problems. Exposure to Asbestos causes most mesotheliomas (a relatively rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen); it can also cause lung, larynx, and ovary cancers.

(Cancer Causes and Prevention, 2022)

4.  Does Cancer cause by Asbestos covered by Insurance?

Most insurance companies put an exclusion clause for diseases caused due to Asbestos. So, it is not covered by your insurance provider.

5.  Can diseases caused by Asbestos be cured?

There is no possible way to cure for asbestosis once it has developed as any diseases caused in the lungs can not be revived. However, few treatments can mitigate the effect.

(Asbestosis: National Health Service, 2020)

6.  What are Asbestos alternatives?

There are materials available that are 100% Asbestos-free and can perform better than asbestos products. There are fibres like synthetic, rubber, glass, ceramics, cellulose, aramid, minerals, etc.

7.   How are Asbestos-related diseases detected?

Any person who has been exposed to Asbestos through jobs, working environments or at home via a family contact should inform their doctor about their exposure history, whether or not they have experienced any symptoms.

The common symptoms are

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Persistent cough
  • Chest related difficulties or pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing

Weight Loss, fatigue

8.  Is Asbestos banned in India?

Asbestos is banned in more than 60 countries. Asbestos mining is banned in India, and on 21st January 2011, the Supreme Court of India denied the use of Asbestos in India. On 15th August 2016, the Hon Mr. Anil Madhav Dave, Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, said, “Asbestos is affecting human health, its usage should gradually be minimized and ended.”

(Abhimanyu, 2018)

9.  Deaths caused due to Asbestos?

It is estimated that 90000 people die every year due to asbestos exposure. Even though it is banned in the majority of countries, 125 million people are still at risk of occupational exposure to Asbestos.

(Asbestos.com, n.d.)

10.  How to handle or remove Asbestos?

Only asbestos abatement professionals should handle and dispose of Asbestos. Individuals who mishandle Asbestos may face dangerous exposure. Technicians should cover their body with a PPE kit, and a Full Face mask must be used when removing Asbestos based material. Also, it must be transported in plastic sealed bags or containers and buried in the ground.

References

Abhimanyu. (2018). Asbestos: Still around, still deadly. The Times of India.

Asbestos (Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite). (2012). In IARC, Arsenic, Metals, Fibres and Dust. 

Asbestos.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Mesothelioma Centre: www.asbestos.com

Asbestosis: National Health Service. (2020, 04th August). Retrieved from National Health Service: www.nhs.uk

Cancer Causes and Prevention. (2022, 04th February). Retrieved from National Cancer Institute: www.cancer.gov