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3 Asbestos Questions, Answered

1. How is asbestos a hazard?

Asbestos comes in many forms. In fact, it's in over 3,000 products. All forms are essentially bad for us. Asbestos is a variety of six minerals. It comes from metaphoric rock and is mined. The microscopic makeup of asbestos is a fibers or fibrous bundles.

It is these tiny fibers that get released into the air that can cause health problems including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. It is the accumulation of these fibers in our lungs that is hazardous and potentially fatal.

2. Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?

Because the body can not break down the dust particles of asbestos, they stay lodged in the delicate lining of our lungs. When we breathe in this dust our lungs become aggravated and scar tissue forms. Prolonged asbestos exposure is linked to several cancers, and is responsible for asbestosis- a chronic, debilitating respiratory disease. Symptoms of asbestosis are a "dry, crackling sound" in the lungs, weight loss, shortness of breath, a persistent cough that produces mucus and painful breathing.

3. How Does Asbestos Get Into Our Bodies?

Usually through the nose by our breathing. Asbestos is not harmful when it is not releasing fibers or dust into the air. So, if you have asbestos tiles on your basement floor, or asbestos tiles in your ceiling you are most likely not at risk. If however those materials become disturbed or damaged, if for example the ceiling tiles are taken out and crushed, potentially dangerous dust and particles can enter the air and your lungs.

Those who do structure demolition or rehabilitation are most at risk for this type of exposure. Others who work in industries that use asbestos, such as automotive, mining, and roofing are also at greater risk.

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