Asbestos was first mined around 4,000 years ago, but in the 19th Century, builders and manufacturers discovered some properties of asbestos that led to the creation of an asbestos industry and large-scale mining operations.
Countries that used asbestos regularly in their building materials and electrical products soon began to notice a disturbing rise in the number of cases of cancer and other lung-related diseases being reported.
It wasn’t until the late 20th century that asbestos was identified as the cause of certain lung cancers, a type of pneumoconiosis (later named asbestosis), and mesothelioma.
The Attractions of Asbestos Led to a Rise in Diseases
Asbestos first began to be popular in the 19th century when it was studied and researchers found that asbestos not only was resistant to heat, fire and electricity, but it absorbed sound, added tensile strength to building materials and had insulating properties.
But the same fibrous properties of asbestos that were so valuable in improving the durability of building materials, were later identified as being the cause of a health crisis.
The Insidious Nature of Asbestos Fibres
It was discovered that the fibres of asbestos were extremely brittle. During the normal course of working with asbestos people using the material drilled, sawed, sanded and chopped the material into the desired shape to fit the application.
Asbestos were added to concrete to create fibro sheeting that was then used for all sorts of construction applications where it was again treated like any other building material.
The tiny, brittle asbestos fibres soon filled the air as the material was worked into shape. Workers breathed in the resulting asbestos dust. The fibres would lodge like needles in the lungs and people soon began to develop lung diseases that were unknown before the growth of the asbestos industry.
The On-going Eradication of Asbestos
By the late seventies asbestos was all around us. It was used heavily in the construction industry to create asbestos cement water pipes, electrical conduit and gutters. It was above us in cement roofing shingles and below us in our asbestos vinyl floor tiles. It served as insulation in the walls around us.
The phenomenal growth and widespread acceptance of asbestos took a toll on the world’s health that is still being felt today. Countries didn’t begin to ban or phase out the material until as late as the 1990s. And in some third-world countries, it is still used by negligent manufacturers.
If you suspect that your home contains asbestos building materials, you should have your suspicions confirmed by experts. If they confirm the presence of asbestos, you should immediately contact an asbestos removal company to have the materials replaced.
Asbestos eradication will be an on-going chore for many more years to come. Eradicating asbestos from your home is something that is definitely worth doing for the health and safety of your family.