Posts Tagged ‘asbestos facts’

Resources for Mesothelioma

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When facing a diagnosis of mesothelioma, knowing where to turn for information and support can make an enormous difference. While there may be local agencies in your area that provide support related to asbestos exposure or mesothelioma, it is important to understand the role and resources provided by the following agencies.


Founded in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exists to safeguard our nation’s water, air and land. The EPA website contains a wealth of information about the uses of asbestos, laws and regulations regarding asbestos, and guidelines for asbestos disposal.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for promoting workplace safety in order to prevent work-related illness and injury. This branch of the Department of Labor creates regulations and standards for workplace safety. On the OSHA website, you will find information about the industries affected by mesothelioma, the safe handling of asbestos and other useful information and resources.


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the national agency responsible for promoting cancer research, development and training through funding and awareness. The NCI website has information about how asbestos is linked to mesothelioma and the available treatments and therapeutic approaches to mesothelioma (both traditional and cutting edge). The site also has a comprehensive list of resources.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) operates to promote research, education and training related to workplace health and safety. On the NIOSH website, you can find numerous articles on the risks and prevention of mesothelioma.


The purpose of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is to protect the public from environmental hazard. The ATSDR website approaches asbestos and mesothelioma from a public health perspective, with a great overview of asbestos exposure and it’s risks.

Making effective choices begins with being fully informed. For more information about mesothelioma victims rights, click the previous link or fill out our online form.

Friability and Asbestos

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, uses of asbestos in home construction was common. Because of its high tensile strength and resistant properties, thousands of asbestos products have been used widely in the construction industry, especially during this time period. As more and more of these homes are being renovated, the risk of exposure to asbestos is a reality that construction workers, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers should be aware of. Preventing exposure during asbestos disposal begins with understanding the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos.

When asbestos is friable, it exists in a form that can easily be broken into pieces, releasing fibers into the air. Acoustical plaster, asbestos paper, pipe coverings, insulation, and asbestos -containing patching compounds are all examples of friable asbestos. Non-friable asbestos, on the other hand, are not easy to break, and as a result, the asbestos fibers are less likely to be released into the air. When left undisturbed, non-friable asbestos may not endanger human health. That’s why asbestos experts advise that certain asbestos containing materials be left alone when remodeling rather than being removed. Examples of non-friable asbestos products include roofing felt, asbestos cement, vinyl flooring, and base flashing.

The EPA identifies two categories of non-friable asbestos. Category 1 non-friable have a binding material that locks the fibers together, and are therefore not likely to become friable. Category 2 non-friable materials, though, are more subject to damage by frequent use and natural deterioration over time. Category 2 non-friable materials are more likely to become friable due to weathering conditions. However, circumstances can also influence whether an asbestos-containing material can become friable during demolition or construction. These factors involve methods of ventilation, demolition and asbestos disposal, as well as how the material itself was made.  The EPA website has guidelines for how to address both  friable and non-friable materials. For more information about asbestos and mesothelioma, visit Mesothelioma FAQ


Industries Exposed to Asbestos

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In the recent past, concern about exposure to asbestos has increased, along with the rise in known incidents of asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Statistics have shown that past (and in some cases, current) employment in certain industries has come with an increased risk of asbestos exposure.


In the 1970’s, research showed a probable link between cancer and the use of asbestos in brake shoes, pads and clutch discs. Many automobile assembly workers, auto mechanics, brake repair experts and production workers were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Since the 1990’s, the majority of these products have been manufactured with materials that are currently considered non-carcinogenic. However, mechanics working on older model cars may still be exposed to asbestos. The U.S. Department of Labor offers significant information on the history and handling of these and other mesothelioma-linked materials in high-risk industries.

Construction and Demolition

Before the mid-1970’s, asbestos was used in insulation around piping and boilers, as well as a strength-building additive in concrete slabs and pillars.  In even earlier decades, as far back as the 1930’s, asbestos was commonly sprayed onto materials, exposing workers to particles that could be easily inhaled.  While the use of asbestos has been banned in many applications, today, asbestos is still used in roofing tiles, slating and as an additive to cement. Construction and demolition workers may encounter asbestos when working with older materials or certain asbestos containing materials that have been damaged. High-risk jobs have included or may include bricklayers, drywall installers, inspectors, insulators, masonry workers, plumbers, construction workers, plasterers, roofers and other construction-related jobs.


Because of potential exposure to insulation and other construction materials, linemen, powerhouse workers and electricians may be at a higher risk for asbestos exposure. In addition, electrical cloth, panel partitions and wiring could contain asbestos.


In World War II, shipyard workers were exposed to many tons of asbestos, as it was used to line boilers, wrap pipes and cover parts. As a result, U.S. Navy personnel, sailors, laggers, longshoremen and yard workers were commonly exposed to asbestos, resulting in higher-than-average rates of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases in this group as well.


In the early 1980’s, the U.S. Navy began to shift from asbestos-containing materials to other materials. Prior to this change, asbestos was used in a variety Naval aircraft parts, including insulation and brake linings. Asbestos was released into the air during the installation and handling of insulation, as well as in the use and repair of brakes. Additionally, some epoxies and glues used in aircraft construction also contained asbestos. If the glue or epoxy was disturbed, the asbestos became airborne (or friable).

Other industries that have historically come in contact with asbestos include crane operators, manufacturers, machinists and asbestos textile mill workers. For more information, visit our mesothelioma articles, or our page on the history of asbestos.


Other Asbestos-Related Diseases

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Mesothelioma, a cancer of the pleura (or lining of the lung) which can be caused by exposure to asbestos, is often times known as an asbestos-related disease. But what about the other asbestos-related diseases? Although Mesothelioma is, generally speaking, the more severe of these diseases, other asbestos-related diseases can pose serious risks to health and can also indicate a risk for asbestos-related cancer. So, what are these other diseases and what are their symptoms?

According to the Mayo Clinic, asbestosis is a progressive disease of the lungs that causes rales (crackling) and wheezing, due to the development of fibrosis or excessive connective tissue in the lungs. A persistent dry cough and even clubbing of the fingers can also accompany asbestosis. Like Mesothelioma, asbestosis may spread to other vital organs. Although asbestosis is irreversible, the progression of asbestosis and the resulting damage can be mitigated by proper treatment. Treatment focusing on relieving symptoms may include the use of oxygen or medications similar to those used by asthma patients. Deaths caused strictly from asbestosis are uncommon. However, asbestosis is an indicator for the risk of more serious cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Asbestos warts are another type of asbestos-related disease. These warts develop when callus-like growths form over asbestos fibers that are stuck under the skin. The warts typically itch. They are benign and do respond well to treatment, but like asbestosis, can indicate a source of larger concern.

Pleural plaques are small calcified or fibrous areas that form on the pleura and can be another asbestos-related illness. These plaques are not dangerous, unless they lead to pleural thickening. Pleural thickening can cause lung damage, but alone, is generally not considered deadly.

If you are showing symptoms that concern you, it is important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you have other questions concerning exposure to asbestos or asbestos-related diseases, visit our Mesothelioma FAQ or read some of our Mesothelioma articles.


Mesothelioma and Asbestos Risk in School

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

In general, children are considered to be at a higher risk for developing mesothelioma. Like adults who have been exposed to asbestos, children who are exposed are unlikely to show any immediate symptoms. However, the younger a child is when they are exposed to high levels of asbestos, the more likely it becomes that they may express symptoms at some point in the future. Depending on the type of asbestos and level of exposure, it can take decades for symptoms to arise. People who were significantly exposed during later adulthood may not live long enough to see any symptoms.

According to the EPA, schools built before the 1980’s may have a stronger possibility of containing asbestos. Asbestos has also been found in some playgrounds where fill materials containing asbestos were donated by a construction company or other construction-related organization. Undisturbed asbestos in good condition is considered less dangerous. The more knowledge a school has about the materials in its facility, the better their chances are of preventing hazardous materials exposure to children and staff.

Consistent with the Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA), EPA regulations require schools to designate an asbestos management coordinator. The coordinator manages all activities relating to asbestos. The success of schools’ asbestos management has largely been the result of the knowledge and practices of the coordinator. Every school is also required to have an asbestos management plan, which should include a list of any uses of asbestos in school structures. Concerned parents can contact an administrator and request a copy of the plan. In the interest of making sure that school environments are safe for children, the EPA offers an AHERA Designated Person Self-Study Guide, which has been a primary resource for schools since its release in 1996.

But unfortunately, the potential risk doesn’t stop in school buildings. Recent tests have shown the presence of asbestos in some children’s toys. Between 2007 and 2009, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, or ADAO, conducted a series of tests on a number of household products sold in the U.S. Three laboratories tested more than 250 products, including children’s toys. Certain modeling clays and other imported materials were shown to contain unacceptable levels of asbestos. One of the most notable cases was a popular fingerprint examination kit. The ADAO tests found significant levels of asbestos in a fingerprint dusting powder that was part of the kit.

Mesothelioma prevention begins with being informed. This mesothelioma blog is dedicated to providing useful information to people about the risks of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma prevention. Whether you are a protective parent, school staff member or concerned citizen, we encourage you to explore this blog, our mesothelioma articles and our mesothelioma FAQ. If you need more assistance, please contact us.


Asbestos in Materials Today

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

It may be surprising to hear that asbestos is still used in some products today. Most types of asbestos have been banned since the 1970’s due to the potential connection to mesothelioma. However, one type of asbestos fiber, chrysotile, has been approved for use in some materials. In insulation and appliances, the fibers resist both heat and cold very effectively. Vinyl floor tiles are strengthened by chrysotile against damage such as scuffing and moisture.

While inhaling asbestos poses serious risks to one’s health, chrysotile fibers are generally considered the least dangerous type of asbestos. Research has shown that the fibers are harmless unless disturbed and released in significant quantities into the air. In addition, when these materials are manufactured, the fibers are sealed into the matrix of the material itself, which prevents chrysotile fibers from being released. Provided that the materials remain undisturbed and are not crumbling, there is no significant risk of exposure.

The EPA has very helpful information about asbestos removal do’s and don’ts. People considering asbestos disposal should consult a professional. Do not sand or tear such materials, as this can release the asbestos fibers. If it is suspected, after the fact, that asbestos containing materials have been disturbed, wet the material to prevent further dispersion of fibers. The EPA also advises not to use a household vacuum or broom to remove dust, as these will likely launch the fibers into the air. Trained professionals will use a special vacuum with a HEPA filter designed specially for this type of situation. If surfaces must be cleaned, use wet mops and sponges. A fine mist of water sprayed into the air may help settle dust as well.

Mesothelioma prevention starts with avoiding exposure. Whether remodeling a home built in the 1950’s — prior to asbestos bans — or handling more recent asbestos-containing materials, asbestos disposal professionals can be of great help. An asbestos abatement professional can assess the risk and recommend a method for handling materials and asbestos abatement. They will also have access to the proper equipment and materials necessary to protect people who might otherwise be exposed. Before working with contractors, making inquiries regarding experience levels and training with asbestos can help determine which contractor will take the necessary precautions.

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, our Mesothelioma FAQ may be of assistance to you.


Avoiding Asbestos Fibers

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Whether you are about to start a construction project or have just completed one, you may have concerns about exposure to asbestos and the reported risk of mesothelioma. Being informed about the materials you will encounter or have encountered is one important step in asbestos remediation and mesothelioma prevention. For example, how you deal with demolition depends largely on the uses of asbestos in the original construction.

When addressing asbestos disposal, handling or abatement in your next project, it is important to understand the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos. Friable asbestos is a general term generally used to describe asbestos that is broken or crumbled easily by hand. If asbestos is friable, there may be a higher likelihood that asbestos fibers will be released into the air during demolition or asbestos disposal.

Non-friable asbestos fibers are considered hard to break by hand, and therefore may have a lower probability of being released into the air. When left alone, non-friable asbestos-containing materials may not pose any serious risk to human health. It is when non-friable asbestos-containing materials are disturbed that they may become a problem.

The EPA has established guidelines for dealing with both friable and non-friable materials. But when it comes to non-friable materials, it becomes important to consider the conditions that influence the level of risk from these materials.

There are many factors that can influence whether an asbestos-containing material is or will become friable. These include: methods of ventilation, demolition and asbestos disposal; the type of material; and when and how the material was made.

The EPA also has established two categories to assist people in determining how to approach these materials. Category 1 non-friable materials are not likely to become friable because of a binding material that locks the fibers together. Category 2 Non-Friable materials have a greater potential to become friable due to frequent use or extreme conditions.

While there are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers for how to address asbestos-containing materials, there are many resources to assist people in mesothelioma prevention. For more information about how to address concerns you may have about mesothelioma, visit our Mesothelioma FAQ.


Dispose of Asbestos Containing Materials

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance made from one of six silicate minerals, which have now been banned due to their link with many health complications, most notably mesothelioma.

Asbestos use has been traced back at least 4,500 years to Finland for strengthening earthenware pots and cooking utensils. The use of asbestos became commonplace between the turn of the 20th century and the late 1970s in industrial capacities. It was also used in brake pads until the mid-1990s.

There are four methods for asbestos disposal; the EPA suggests all methods should be performed by a properly-licensed asbestos abatement company, and any intact asbestos not be touched. Knowing whether a product contains asbestos is not easy unless it’s properly labeled.

The most dangerous method of asbestos removal is dry stripping.  This involves simply removing the asbestos without any amount of moisture. While a simple method, dry stripping can produce a large amount of dust and may release toxins.

High-pressured water removal is a popular method, using the water to force the asbestos away from the people doing the removal. This method is usually reserved for industrial spaces that are hard to reach.

A technique for home asbestos removal is controlled wet stripping, performed by injecting warm water into asbestos with specialized needles. This effectively weighs down the material, which also helps control the amount of dust released.

Another asbestos-removal method is hot stripping. This technique includes the use of a ventilation system along with hot air. By blowing the asbestos fibers with the hot air, any residue can be directed toward a powerful ventilation system.

However, in some cases asbestos material is not removed, but rather encased.

In many countries, asbestos is typically disposed of as hazardous waste in landfill sites. In the United States, OSHA regulations require a sign stating that the hazardous waste or landfill site contains asbestos.

For more information check out our Mesothelioma articles on the laws and regulations concerning asbestos materials.



Asbestos Facts: Be Aware

Monday, March 21st, 2011

It may often help to be aware of asbestos facts, especially if there’s a chance that you may have been exposed to potentially mesothelioma-inducing asbestos fibers, or if you know someone who may have been put in that situation.  Being armed with asbestos facts can, in an ideal world, help prevent asbestos exposure.  However, in a situation where one has already been exposed to this dangerous mineral, awareness of asbestos facts might be able help prepare someone to plan for the future.

The ultimate asbestos fact is that it’s often linked to contracting mesothelioma.  Though mesothelioma is naturally occurring (that is, without the introduction of asbestos fibers into the equation) at a rate of about 1 in 1,000,000, that figure jumps to somewhere from 7 to 40 cases per 1,000,000 population.  That means that asbestos is a primary cause of mesothelioma.

Another sad asbestos fact is that much of this asbestos exposure occurs in hazardous, on-the-job situations.  Asbestos was a material in widespread use in the construction and shipbuilding industries, so many people were tasked with handling it as part of their jobs.  Before the extent of the dangers of asbestos was fully known, many precautions that might have been taken to avoid inhalation of the light, feathery mineral proved to be sadly insufficient.  The result is, many people ended up inhaling the mineral, and asbestos inhalation is a common cause of mesothelioma.

Another asbestos fact: We’ve alluded to the “feathery” nature of asbestos.  The fact is, the mineral is very, very lightweight, and is relatively easily inhaled.  Once that occurs, the fibers can get embedded in the pleural lining of the lungs.  It’s also possible for the fibers to embed themselves in the pleural lining of the stomach as well after ingestion.  What follows is a latency period lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, after which mesothelioma finally rears its ugly head.

Important Asbestos Facts

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Knowing asbestos facts could be an important way to be prepared about their dangers.  The foremost fact we’re concerned with is its causal relation to mesothelioma.  The fact is, asbestos has a strong link to victims who have developed mesothelioma.  A (sadly all-to-common) tale is workers in the industries of construction and shipbuilding come in contact with asbestos and subsequently develop mesothelioma.  The question is, however, how are these linked?  How and why does asbestos cause mesothelioma?  We’ve compiled a few facts to help set the record straight.

Asbestos is a mineral that, when found in mines, is fibrous, almost feathery, and very lightweight.  Both of these factors—its extremely low density and its feathery attributes—make it a highly valued building material for a couple of reasons.  For one, due to its physical properties, it traps a significant amount of air in between its fibers.  This makes it useful as an insulation material.  It was not uncommon for asbestos to be used on ships to insulate boilers and pipes.  It was also used in construction, where it was often combined with concrete.  This created a stronger, lighter concrete that was easier to ship and work with.

However, this fibrous consistency is also a big reason why asbestos can be so dangerous.  When it’s disturbed (by workers handling the material, for example), particles of the mineral can become airborne, which makes them very easy to ingest or inhale.  From there, the fibers can embed themselves in the lining of your lungs, which, after a period of latency, can trigger the onset of mesothelioma.

There are, generally speaking, two forms of naturally occurring asbestos.  They are amphibole and sepentine asbestos.  It’s possible to further categorize amphibole asbestos into additional types, including amosite and crocidolite.

Asbestos is a mineral found the world over.  Particularly large asbestos concerns are located in South Africa, Australia, Canada, China, and Russia.  Historically, Canada has been the world leader of asbestos mining.