What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring minerals that resist damage from extreme heat, electricity, and chemicals. Asbestos has been used as a flame retardant in thousands of products, such as textiles, insulation, building materials, and brakes for many years. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that scientists discovered the dangers of asbestos, linking it to thousands of cases of respiratory disease. Since then, asbestos use has been restricted, and even banned completely in some countries.
If you looked at asbestos under a microscope, you would see tiny barbs at the ends of the fibers, which serve to anchor the fibers to lung tissue. Once inhaled, asbestos particles are nearly impossible to dislodge. The more you are exposed, the higher your chances are of developing respiratory problems, even though symptoms may not be present for decades. The two illnesses most often associated with asbestos exposure are asbestosis and mesothelioma. While some treatments have been developed for these diseases, the overall survival rate remains poor.
Proper use of Personal Protective Equipment has been proven to greatly reduce both primary and secondary exposure levels.
- Clothing – Disposable protective clothing which completely covers arms, legs and hair needs to be worn at all times. Work gloves suitable for chemical handling are needed as well.
- Respirators – A respirator rated specifically for asbestos abatement by the NIOSH should be worn at all times.
- Disposal – All contaminated garments should be removed immediately and sealed in a plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination. Dispose of bag according to local laws and regulations.