What is asbestos and how it cause Mesothelioma cancer

What Is Asbestos and How It Cause Mesothelioma Cancer

(Last Updated On: March 22, 2018)

What Is Asbestos

It refers to 6 naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the power to resist heat, fire and electricity, they are usually known by their colors, as blue asbestos, brown asbestos, white asbestos, and green asbestos.

Types Of Asbestos

The word “asbestos” is a general term referring to a bunch of silicate minerals that have identical properties, including:

♦ Thin, fibrous crystals (known as associate degree “asbestiform habit”) that may be easily broken and manipulated

 ♦ Resistance to fire, heat and electricity

♦ Sound absorption

All types of asbestos share the above properties, although every individual type could vary in other facets, like color and tensile strength.

They are divided into two categories –

1. Serpentine

This Type of asbestos are made up of long, curly fibers.There is only one minerals includes in this category which is known as chrysotile.

2. Amphibole

They are brittle, rod- or needle-shaped fibers. Remain 5 minerals: Amosite, crocidolite (also called blue asbestos), tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite are includes in this category.

There are Six Different Types of Asbestos :

Manufacturers used crocidolite, that is also called blue asbestos, less than other kinds of asbestos because it doesn’t resist heat as well as different kinds of the mineral. Its fibers are very skinny. Crocidolite is the most harmful type of asbestos.

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Chrysotile comprises about 90 % of the asbestos used commercially in the world. Its fibers are curling and longer than other asbestos types. asbestos supporters argue that it isn’t as harmful as other  types, however scientific studies ensure it causes the same diseases and is very hazardous to human health.


Tremolite, usually found alongside deposits of talc, vermiculite and chrysotile, is responsible for contaminating the disreputable vermiculite mine in libby, Montana. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that vermiculite, that could be a mineral used for a kind of insulation, was put in in more than 35 million U.S. homes below the brand name Zonolite.

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This mineral has straight-shaped fibers and is generally dark in color. actinolite was normally combined with vermiculite to form insulation. it had been also utilized in construction materials like drywall and paint.


Manufacturers didn’t use anthophyllite as much because the different varieties of asbestos, and it isn’t as voluminous as different varieties of the mineral. whereas it had been mined mostly in Finland, there have been many mines in North Carolina and Georgia.


Considered more poisonous than chrysotile, it is primarily found in South Africa. It usually seems brown, and its fibers are shorter and straighter than chrysotile fibers. Construction projects most well-liked amosite over other Types.

Why asbestos are harmful to our health

It is formed of microscopic fibers which will easily become airborne and inhaled . due to their shape, the asbestos particles hold tissues of the lungs and other areas of the respiratory system.

Over time, these little fibers will cause inflammation, causing variety of health issues, the 3 biggest of that are:

1. Mesothelioma — This aggressive cancer forms in the skinny membrane (mesothelium) that protects important organs in the chest and abdomen. Exposure to asbestos is that the only medically-verified cause of the disease.

2. lung cancer — most commonly related to factors like smoking and radon, lung cancer is also known to be exacerbated by exposure to asbestos.

3. Asbestosis — This degenerative respiratory condition results from the formation of connective tissue plaques on the surface of the pleura (lung linings). It is a precursor to the onset of mesothelioma.

Diagnoses and Treatment Of Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases

Asbestosis and asbestos-related lung disease like mesothelioma, lung cancer   is tough to diagnose because its signs and symptoms are the same as those of the many different kinds of respiratory diseases. a variety of diagnostic tests can be required to help pinpoint the diagnosis.

Your doctor will want to know regarding your history of asbestos exposure. He or she could ask about your work history and your spouse’s or other family members’ work histories.

Your doctor also may ask regarding your location and surroundings. as an example, he or she may ask regarding areas of the country where you have lived.


Your doctor may ask whether or not you have any symptoms, like shortness of breath or coughing. The symptoms of asbestos-related lung diseases vary. They rely on which disease you have and how much it has damaged your lungs.

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Your doctor also may ask whether you smoke. Smoking, together with asbestos exposure, raises your risk for lung cancer.

Diagnoses Tests

Your Doctor perform Three test to check wheather you have asbestos-realted  Lung Disease or not.

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  1. Chest X-ray
  2. Computerized tomography (CT)
  3. Pulmonary function tests

Chest X-ray

A chest x ray is the most common test for detecting asbestos-related lung diseases. This painless test creates photos of the structures inside your chest, like the lungs.

A chest x ray can’t find asbestos fibers in the lungs. However, it will show asbestos-related diseases, like pleural plaque and pleural effusion. pleural effusion can also be a signal of a more severe disease, like mesothelioma.

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A chest x ray can also show asbestosis. usually the lung tissue can seem very white on the x-ray footage. The size, shape, location, and degree of whiteness will facilitate your doctor figure out how much lung harm you have. Severe asbestosis could have an effect on the entire lung and have a honeycomb look on the x-ray pictures.

If you have lung cancer, a chest x ray could show plenty or abnormal fluid.

If you have mesothelioma, a chest x ray can show thickening of the pleura. The pleura is the tissue around the lungs and diaphragm (the muscle below your lungs). The chest x ray also can usually show signs of pleural effusion in people who have mesothelioma.

Computerized tomography (CT)

A chest computed tomography (to-MOG-ra-fee) scan, or chest CT scan combine a series of X-ray views taken from many various angles to provide cross-sectional pictures of the bones and soft tissues inside your body.A chest CT scan could also be very useful for locating asbestosis in its earliest stages, before a standard chest x ray will detect it.

Pulmonary function tests

These tests confirm how well your lungs are functioning. pulmonary perform tests measure how much air your lungs will hold and also the airflow in and out of your lungs.

During the test, you may be asked to blow as hard as you can into an air-measurement device known as a spirometer. More-complete pulmonary function tests will measure the quantity of oxygen being transferred to your bloodstream.

Treatment of Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases

There’s no treatment to reverse the consequences of asbestos on the alveoli. Treatment focuses on slowing the progression of the disease and relieving symptoms.

You’ll need routine follow-up care, like chest X-rays and lung function tests, at regular intervals looking on the severity of your condition.


To ease respiration issue caused by advanced asbestosis, your doctor would possibly prescribe supplemental oxygen. this can be delivered by thin plastic tube with prongs that fit into your nostrils or a mask.


 If your symptoms are severe, you would possibly be a candidate for a lung transplant.

While breathing asbestos is unlikely to cause any immediate damage, asbestosis and asbestos-related cancers usually arise a few years after the first exposure. This gap between exposure and the introduction of symptoms, called the latency phase, will vary between 10 and 50 years.

Due To long latency phase, people exposed to asbestos before 1980s government rules may only currently begin to note pleural mesothelioma symptoms.

The latency phase also means the peak in pleural mesothelioma cases will not occur till decades when the peak in asbestos usage. For this reason, most projections estimate that the U.S. still has not experienced the highest annual rate of mesothelioma cases.

Most models estimate that the maximum variety of annual pleural mesothelioma diagnoses can occur between 2015 and 2020. This estimate holds true for other areas of the world with the same history of asbestos usage. as an example, British researchers expect to see a national maximum in 2016 and Dutch researchers estimate a 2017 peak.

Rules & Regulations On Usage Of Asbestos

It’s use isn’t illegal in the U.S., however it’s strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and different government entities, It will only be utilized in products that have historically contained the mineral.

In other words, no “new uses” are allowed. In addition, asbestos Manufactured products that can be providing there is no adequate substitute.

This has led to a steep decrease in nationwide use. In 1973, domestic consumption of this harmful mineral was 803,000 metric tons.

Consumption in 2005 was a fraction of that, totaling only 2,400 metric tons. the small quantity that’s still used annually goes into products that need fireproof and heat resistant qualities. products which can still be created with asbestos include protective clothing, pipe insulation, brake linings and similar materials.

People who work around asbestos must be protected Well. Employers are needed to disclose the presence of this harmful mineral to staff and supply correct protecting gear, like air-purifying respirators, before any work that will disturb asbestos.

Asbestos Alternatives

Today, the hazards related to asbestos are well known and there are various alternatives to asbestos product presently on the market.

Therefore, when transforming a home or renovating an building, there are several choices to be considered. many of those different product are “green”, providing a secure alternative for the atmosphere as well as for the people inside the building. Most are readily offered and can be provided by a contractor. Safe Alternatives to asbestos include:

Polyurethane foam

Polyurethane foam provides effective insulation and is usually used as an alternate to asbestos. it’s found in spray form, and it’s multifunctional. Builders, contractors and makers are the most common users of polyurethane foam due to its industrial advantages.

Polyurethane foam is affordably priced for its perform and provides a lot of worth than other alternatives. Its composition can also be adjusted counting on the preferred use. This flexibility permits it to be a necessary resource for multiple tasks.

it’s generally referred to as the “king of building materials for multitasking.” One type of this material, called flexible polyurethane foam, is used a lot of often in consumer products. These products include furniture, bedding, carpet cushion, packaging and automotive parts.

Amorphous silica fabric

Amorphous silica fabric is a high-quality cloth woven from nearly pure amorphous silica fibers. The fibers do not rot, attract mildew or burn. they’re also extremely heat resistant. not like asbestos, amorphous silica fabrics are able to achieve similar levels of insulation and fire resistance while not inflicting deadly diseases.

This material will be used for high-temperature insulation, application protection and thermal protection. It will be found in shipbuilding, automotive services, and also the electrical, aerospace and metallurgy industries.

Amorphous silica materials don’t seem to be normally used for residential purposes. the variety of business applications of this material is what allows it to be a great substitute for asbestos.

Thermoset plastic flour

Thermoset plastic flour comes from finely ground wood flour mixed with binders, like egg or gelatin, that are later hardened and then finely ground. It provides similar advantages to asbestos while not putting the user in danger, creating its use widespread in construction.

It can not be melted completely, however it are often wont to create another material like polyurethane foam. Even when heated, it retains its chemical composition. These factors permit thermosetting plastic to produce tremendous advantages for numerous industries.

It is considered cost effective, and thermoset plastics additionally work well in an electrical or mechanical setting. usually filled with wood flour, thermoset plastic flour provides insulation advantages. It can also be suited to high temperatures and will be used as an adhesive.

Flour fillers

To fill in the cracks and crevices in a structure, flour fillers is also used as an alternative to asbestos filler because they contain some natural materials that give many of identical characteristics.

Flour fillers will come in various varieties, together with rice flour, pecan shell, flour and others. This asbestos substitute is also tough to get because it’s not as widely distributed as some other alternatives.

Walnut shell flours and grit are often made into resins, veneers, laminated lumber, and that they are often utilized in producing rubber and paint product. they’re also included in some cosmetics. this sort of flour filler is also incorporated in adhesives and plywood manufacturing.

Rice hull flour is used to increase applications that need high-silica content, and corn cob flour could be a lightweight extender. other flour fillers include those made from pecans, rice, wheat, rice hulls and rice hull ash.

Cellulose fiber

Chemically treated to enhance its properties, cellulose fiber is commonly made up of cotton, wood pulp, linen or shredded paper products. it’s considered one among the more frequently used asbestos alternatives. polyose fiber contains adhesive characteristics and is usually created to be water soluble. it’s a significant part in cement.

These cements appear in roofing and plumbing products. The cements seal and insulate high- and low-pressure pipes, water heaters, storage tank, and gutters, among other products.

It’s a common ingredient in drywall. Some Chinese drywall makers that sell products to U.S. firms for distribution have switched from asbestos-based cement to fiber-based cement to form wall and ceiling coverings.

One variety of cellulose fiber is autoclaved cellulose fiber-reinforced cement. Pulp and waste paper form the fiber and later mixed with ground silica sand, ash or both. after an autoclaving heating method, the mixture becomes more heat resistant.

Despite the significant drop in use, and all the restrictions relating to it currently, asbestos remains a significant drawback nowadays. commercial and residential structures designed before 1980 still are stuffed with asbestos products that become more dangerous as they age.

Any transforming, renovating or demolition of these structures, for example, releases toxic asbestos fibers into the air, where they will be inhaled unknowingly. an estimated 10,000 people within the U.S. still are diagnosed annually with an asbestos-related disease.


Reference :


American Cancer Society



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