Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. Pure asbestos is an effective insulator, and it can also be mixed into cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger.
- Source: Asbestos.com
Asbestos refers to a set of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals with six primary sub-classifications
Due its adaptive and fire resistant characteristics, asbestos has been used in a variety of manufactured goods including:
Although this material is highly utilized, it comes with severe health implications and MUST be handled with extreme caution. Improper attempts to remove asbestos-containing materials may release asbestos fibers into the air, increasing asbestos levels and endangering the people living or working in the exposed area.
When it comes to asbestos sampling, there are major health risks that come along with handling such high volumes of asbestos particles. Studies, done by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and other health-related government entities, have shown that asbestos can increase the risk for some types of respiratory illnesses and even cancer.
When asbestos fibers in the air are inhaled, some particular fibers may reach the ends of the small airways in the lungs or penetrate into the outer lining of the lung and chest wall. When this occurs, these fibers may irritate the cells in the lung and eventually cause lung cancer or mesothelioma. Most cases of lung cancer occur 15 or more years after initial exposure to asbestos. For mesothelioma, the time between initial exposure and acute symptoms of mesothelioma don’t occur until 30 years or more.
A more common health risk of asbestos exposure is a lung disease known as asbestosis. Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, develops after a person breathes high levels of asbestos over time and some of the fibers embed deep into the lungs. In most cases, irritation caused by these fibers eventually lead to lung scarring, and while some people may not have serious symptoms, others may be seriously disabled by breathing and respiratory problems.
In the past, the use of asbestos was widespread and used as a cost-efficient insulator, and although now heavily regulated, asbestos is still found in older buildings, homes, and materials.
Because asbestos particles are invisible to the human eye, many regulating authorities require sample tests to be conducted before renovations, demolition or any other type of disturbance is done to a structure.
In addition, the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires the owner of a building or the operator to notify appropriate state agencies before any demolition, or before any renovations of buildings that could contain a certain threshold amount of asbestos or asbestos-containing material.