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Asbestos

Asbestos has been confirmed to cause asbestosis (asbestos cancer) and various forms of cancer. About 1.3 million employees in the general industry and in the construction are exposed and are at a risk. Employees who are exposed to asbestos can develop two different types of asbestos cancer from the highly toxic, fibrous mineral. The first one is lung cancer and the other one is mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma cancer occurs most likely due to asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is the name given to a group of six different fibrous minerals (chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, and the fibrous varieties of actinolite, tremolite, and anthophyllite) that occur in the environment naturally. Asbestos fibers are not visible by the eye (only by a microscope) and many years have passed without the employees knowing the harmful consequences (only the industries knew the harmful consequences). Once inhaling the asbestos fibers, they hook themselves into the lining of the lungs or other parts of the respiratory tract and remains there permanently, which poses a major health hazard.

We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe, but these are low levels that range from 0.00001 to 0.0001 fibers per milliliter of air and generally are highest in cities and industrial areas. Although we are exposed to these dangers, asbestos is still found in more than 3,000 products today.
Asbestos is a material that has been used over hundreds of years (and has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s) to make various sorts of products such as plastics, ships, vehicle brakes, transmission parts, automobile clutches, paints, building materials, floor tiles, roofing materials, some paper products, and much much more. Since the early 1940s, millions of employees have been exposed to asbestos dust and are all at risk.  The number of deaths caused by asbestos have increased steadily since the 1960s.

Although the harmful consequences asbestos minerals cause to human kind, some organizations still chose/choose to use asbestos and many structures still contain asbestos containing minerals because of its physical characteristics (separate long fibers, strong and flexible to be spun and woven), which make it resistant to heat, fire, and many caustic chemicals. These physical characteristics are linked with several adverse human effects. Asbestos breaks into dust of microscopic fibers. These fibers can linger in the air for a long time and can easily be inhaled and enter the body, where it can reside permanently. Therefore, exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis (asbestos cancer), which makes it very difficult to breath, which can consequently be fatal.

If you are working in the below occupations you need to pay careful attention. Brake Mechanics, metal plate workers, Insulators, plumbers, boilermakers, shipyard workers, shipfitters, electricians, maintenance workers, carpenters, gas fitters, or any occupation where you are exposed to asbestos particles. People living near these industries may also be exposed to high levels of asbestos in air.


Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), has enforced
mesothelioma law (asbestos law) to protect the workforce. There are certain standards as how much asbestos levels are allowed. Currently the law allows 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter for an eight hour work day period and one fiber per cubic centimeter in any given thirty minute time period. The law also require the employers to provide their employees with training on how to safely work with asbestos, conduct routine health exams, provide protective respiratory and clothing equipment, and hygiene facilities. Employers are also required to create regulated work areas and conduct frequent exposure monitoring.

 

   
       
 

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