March 29, 2012

Asbestos information

With all of the information about asbestos that has been circulating within the past few decades, many people have been led to believe that this substance has been banned outright by the United States government. Unfortunately, even though it has been proven to lead directly to deadly diseases, such as the rare and aggressive cancer called mesothelioma, asbestos is still found in a wide range of products in the United States and around the world, and the Environmental Protection Agency has never issued a general ban on the use of asbestos.Sixty countries worldwide have banned the use of asbestos, either in whole or in part.

Beginning in the early 1970s, and continuing until the early 1990s, both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued standards regulating the permissible levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Yet the material was one of the first hazardous air pollutants to be regulated under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act of 1970, which is also known as the NESHAP, or National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

Asbestos is a toxic material

A number of applications of asbestos have also been forbidden by the Toxic Substances Control Act, as well. Most developed nations also regulate or ban both the mining and importation of raw asbestos material. Nevertheless, most of these regulations and standards do not address the fact that asbestos remains in a number of existing structures and products. Although there is a general consensus that asbestos most likely remains safe when it is intact, it does have a tendency to become "friable," or easily broken or damaged, as it ages. When this occurs, even a slight impact-such as being struck by a tennis ball or a human hand-can release the microscopic asbestos fibers into the surrounding air, where they can be breathed in.

Asbestos meaning

What exactly is asbestos? A naturally occurring durable mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals, asbestos is found in some rock formations and is also mined in open pits. Most of the asbestos used in the United States has been brought in from Canada.

Asbestos has a number of extremely useful properties, which have been recognized-and prized-for centuries. It is not only extremely lightweight, durable and flexible, but it can also withstand heat, flame, electrical conductivity, corrosion, and other biological and chemical processes. Moreover, it can be mixed with building materials such as cement, concrete, metals and plastics, and can even be woven into cloth or spun into yarn. It versatility and abundance made it a valuable product in the construction, milling, shipbuilding and commercial products industries, especially throughout the twentieth century. Asbestos is made up of long, thin fibers, some of which are soft and curly, others of which are thin, needle-like and sharp. The first category of fibers are more easily expelled from the body, but the needle-like fibers, which help provide the durability and strength for which asbestos is valued, can become embedded in the body's soft tissues and remain there for years. Once inhaled, these fibers tend to target the mesothelium, which is a protective lining, composed of both inner and outer layers, that surround the body's internal organs and line the thoracic and abdominal cavities.

The mesothelial cells in these layers produce a type of lubricating liquid that is released in between the two layers. This liquid allows organs that move and expand, such as the lungs when a breath is taken, to do so easily and without causing friction when they contact other organs, such as the heart. Mesothelioma is a cancer of these mesothelial cells, usually located around the lungs, in which cells become abnormal and divide uncontrollably.

They may then begin to spread and cause damage to the nearby organs, and eventually the lymph system.It's estimated that 90 percent of all mesothelioma cases can be directly traced back to asbestos exposure, and that the remaining 10 percent, although there is no direct link, are most likely also due to asbestos inhalation. Although there is no level of exposure which is considered safe, most experts agree that prolonged or repeated exposure, which increases the amount of asbestos particulate accumulating in the body, is more likely to lead to asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis.

It's even possible to transmit the fibers from one person to another, since they can become trapped in fabrics such as clothing. This means that even those who had no direct contact to the material, but merely shared a home with an asbestos worker, may nevertheless be at risk for contracting this devastating disease.After the diagnosis of this cancer, the patient will work with an oncologist to determine the proper treatment steps to take. Some of the more standard types of treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

There are also other treatments available such as clinical trials, which may include natural supplements, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis and massage. Because of delays in diagnosing this cancer, some patients can only be given options to help control the pain and keep them as comfortable as possible.Unfortunately, asbestos remains a danger in the United States and around the world. This once-ubiquitous building material is in countless homes, office buildings, schools, hospitals, factories and other locations. It may also exist in numerous consumer products in those homes, as well as in cars and ships. Every day, new reports come out about asbestos posing a hazard. If you or someone you love has worked in a trade where asbestos may have been widely used, or if you have had any known contact with an asbestos-containing consumer product, it's important to make your health care provider aware of this fact, and closely monitor your own health.

Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma include such non-specific issues such as coughing, persistent or bloody cough, back or chest pain, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. If you have a history of asbestos exposure and any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately. Like many cancers, mesothelioma can be treated if it is caught early enough.