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Asbestos and What You Need To Know

the dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos is either a word you’ve heard of or you’re only hearing about now. It’s not something that comes up normally in conversations, no matter what the setting. But little do people know, Asbestos is used in hundreds of products bought and sold by U.S .consumers and suppliers. Products are only allowed to be composed of 1% asbestos and such professions like firefighting, construction, and heavy industry jobs work regularly with asbestos and undergo asbestos training online or onsite to better handle the material.

They need to the training because asbestos is a highly dangerous mineral and can cause a number of health problems to those who its come into contact with. Not to be taken lightly, this toxic mineral can cause cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and a host of other diseases.

In this article, we will strive to supply you with all the basic information about asbestos, how you could minimize the risk of exposure to better safeguard your health, and why its important you should consider undergoing asbestos training online.

What is Asbestos?

Composed of soft and flexible fibers, asbestos is a natural occurring mineral known for its heat-resistance and its imperviousness to electricity and corrosion, These very properties make asbestos highly useful as an insulator. Asbestos can be incorporated to cloth, cement, plastic, and even paper in order to make them stronger and more resistant to all kinds of corrosive forces.

The word asbestos, some scholars believe, might have come from the ancient Greek word, sasbestos, which meant inextinguishable – alluding to it’s use in the fire pits. In ancient times, Asbestos’ long fibers and heat-resistant properties allowed it to be used as wicks for lamps and candles. It was also used to make stronger, more fire-resistant clay pots, and the dead Egyptian pharaohs were known to be wrapped in cloths made from Asbestos which helped preserve their bodies better.

It saw widespread use during the Industrial Revolution when its quality as a fireproofing agent was rediscovered and applied to the automobile, construction, and power and chemical industries. It would later find more purpose in the US military, fireproofing everything from helmets to tanks and aircrafts.

Where Does It Come From?

Although asbestos deposits can be found all over the world, most of the world’s asbestos comes from a few nations. Kazakhstan, Russia, and China are the main exporters of Asbestos, while the material used to be mined all throughout North America. It is found both in large deposits and as a contaminate of other mineral deposits like vermiculite and talc. There are other types of asbestos, like the Chrysotile, that are more commonly found as veins within serpentine rock.

What are the Different Kinds of Asbestos?

There are a number of different kinds of asbestos, all of which will be taught during asbestos training online. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 though legally identifies 6 types of asbestos which can be classified under two categories: Amphibole and Serpentine.

Amphibole Asbestos:

The fibers for this type of asbestos are jagged and straight. Five types that are recognized:

  • Crocidolite – used in insulating steam engines and in coating pipes, plastics, and cement products as a spray-on to also insulate from intense heat.
  • Amosite – commonly used for insulating ceiling tiles, cement sheets, and pipes.
  • Anthophyllite – used only in limited quantities in the making of certain insulation products and construction materials.
  • Tremolite – Not approved to be used commercially.
  • Actinolite – Like Tremolite, it is not approved to be used commercially.

Serpentine Asbestos:

The fibers of this type of asbestos, as the name would suggest, are curly and snake-like. There is only one recognized type of Serpentine Asbestos:

  • Chrysotile – Also known as white asbestos, this type of used for thousands of different kinds of products in the past. These days, Chrysotile asbestos can only be found in the four products its use is approved for: friction materials; coatings for the roof and cement; asbestos cement; and gaskets.

What Illnesses Does Asbestos Cause?

Since the days of the Industrial Revolution, asbestos has been proven to cause a host of health complications and illnesses which require anyone in the profession that deals with or is at high risk of asbestos exposure to acquire Asbestos training online or from a qualified expert.

The main reason why asbestos is so dangerous to the health is because the fibers cannot be broken down when they are inhaled into the lungs or become stuck in other tissues. This can happen when, for instance, drilling happens on an asbestos ceiling or an asbestos cement wall. Without wearing the proper protective equipment, the driller could inhale the dust and debris, thus taking in possibly dangerous amounts of asbestos into his system, either by inhalation of ingestion. The same also applies for spray on asbestos.

The three main diseases brought on by excessive exposure to Asbestos are:

  • Asbestosis – This respiratory disease caused by the breathing-in of asbestos fibers is characterized by an aggravated lung or lungs. Common symptoms of this illness includes shortness of breath, and a crackling sound whenever the affected inhales. If left on its own, the disease can cause hearth failure. There is no known treatment for Asbestosis and the effects can range from disabling to even death.
  • Lung Cancer – Lung cancer caused by asbestos make up the lion’s share of asbestos-related deaths. This is more often found to occur among those who work in mines, milling, and any manufacturing job that makes use of asbestos. Symptoms of lung cancer include but are not limited to: shortness of breath, coughing, chest pains, and anemia. People who are exposed to asbestos and also regularly smoke are at greater risk of developing lung cancer that their non-smoking colleagues.
  • Mesothelioma – This form of disease is a rarer form on cancer and is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. It forms in the thin membrane that lines the chest, abdomen, lungs, and in rarer cases, the heart.

Other ailments that can be caused by asbestos include the development of other types of cancers. Colon, esophagus, larynx, and stomach cancer can all be caused by exposure to asbestos. Taking proper asbestos training online can greatly reduce the risk of contamination and illnesses due to asbestos exposure. Unlike the US, 17 nations including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Germany have gone so far as to impose partial or full bans on asbestos, thus sparking the creation of several substitute products.

Who Are Most at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos is dangerous even in small amounts but some professions bring greater risks of exposure than others. The more exposure one receives to asbestos increases the amounts of asbestos accumulated in the body. The damaged caused by this is irreversible as there is still no known way of dealing with asbestos-related sicknesses.

The occupations most at risk of exposure to asbestos includes but are not limited to:

  • Mining
  • Firefighting
  • Ship Building
  • Construction
  • Heavy Industry

There are numerous other occupations wherein asbestos exposure is also possible, all be it to a lesser extent. Architects, electricians, plumbers, and demolition workers can all be exposed to asbestos in their line of work. It is essential that anyone who comes into close contact with asbestos be certain to do so with the right safety equipment like masks, goggles, and suits that protect the skin.

People who work with asbestos and smoke too are at greater risk as well. Certain studies have shown an increased likelihood of people working with asbestos getting cancer when compounded with the effect of carcinogens gotten from smoking cigarettes. Age and duration of exposer also play a big role part in determining the level of risk. Mesothelioma, for instance, has been seen in children who where exposed to asbestos secondhand by their fathers who inadvertently brought asbestos lodged in their clothing home from work. Men over the age of 60 are also at higher risk even from the most minute amounts of asbestos.

Also, living in the vicinity of a place where asbestos is used also places you and your family at risk. Asbestos fibers can become airborne and cause health problems to those caught in the path. This happened to the town of Libby, Montana which was exposed to both airborne asbestos and secondhand asbestos exposure due to the vermiculite mining nearby and from the citizens who worked in those mines too. The result was what can only be describes as an environmental disaster and the unfortunate death of hundreds.

Why You Need To Take Asbestos Training Online?

For anyone in the line of work that deals with asbestos, no matter how menial the amount, it is highly recommended that proper asbestos training online or in a learning center be sought out. Asbestos training online can impart on you the necessary skills and knowledge to protect yourself and perform your work safely. It also protects those around you from being at risk too.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos training online or from an accredited trainer can offer the three essential levels of information needed to handle asbestos properly:

  1. Asbestos Awareness
  2. Licensable Working with Asbestos
  3. Non-licensable Working with Asbestos

Asbestos awareness aims to inform you on the dangers of asbestos to your personal health and how best to avoid it getting into your system. It will also teach you about all the items, products, and materials that contain or use asbestos in order for your to either know which things to handle with care or to avoid it all together. Asbestos awareness, and asbestos online training by extension, can also help you identify the kinds of jobs that deal heavily in asbestos if you do plan on working in those kinds of industries.

Licensable working with asbestos are for the contractors who are deemed competent and skilled enough to deal with asbestos materials. Your asbestos training online and the subsequent licensing can aid in career growth as well since most employers dealing in any kind of construction, maintenance, and/or heavy industry must have a licensed contractor equipped with the appropriate respiratory-protection gear. They are the only ones allowed by law to handle or deal with excessive quantities of asbestos.

The kind of non-licensed working with asbestos usually comprise of simple construction, plumbing, and electrical work that would still place a person in direct contact with the substance. Asbestos training online teaches those kinds of workers or ones who aspires to work in those fields how to identify asbestos-containing materials and how to disturb them with the utmost safety and care.

Other things that asbestos training online or from an accredited trainer includes is emergency care procedures, selection of the right protective equipment, the proper disposal of asbestos waste, assessment of exposure risks, and a rundown of other legal requirements when handling the dangerous mineral.

Final Thoughts

Asbestos is a material with many applications but is also very dangerous. It is commonly known for its heat- and corrosion-resistant properties which makes it highly useful for insulating and strengthening a wide range of materials. There are different types of asbestos classified as being either Amphibole or Serpentine and used for different kinds of things.

Asbestos can be found all-over the world but some nations have taken steps to either partially or fully ban asbestos mining and use due to the numerous health risks it poses.

The inhalation and/or ingestion of asbestos can cause a number of health problems including cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Smoking, your age, and your occupation can all affect your risk of exposure to asbestos. Those who work in mining, construction, and heavy industry are at higher risk of asbestos contamination and the same could be said for their families.

Asbestos training online can greatly reduce the risk of exposure and contamination for those who deal with asbestos either by chance or on a regular basis. The training imparts the knowledge of asbestos and its associated dangers while also providing you with important skills like risk assessment, emergency response procedures, and safety practices. It can also lead to career growth as licensed contractors certified to deal with asbestos are a legal requirement.

We certainly hope that this article was of benefit to you. Do take all the necessary precautions when dealing with asbestos like wearing protective equipment, proper disposal of any asbestos-containing materials, and undergoing the right asbestos training online or otherwise to ensure you’re in-the-know on how to safely handle this extremely useful but dangerous substance.