What is Asbestos?

The term “asbestos” refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals found in certain types of rock formations. All six minerals are now known to be carcinogenic to humans. Of that general group, the minerals chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite have been most commonly used in building products. When mined and processed, asbestos is typically separated into very thin fibers. When these fibers are present in the air, they are normally invisible to the naked eye.  Asbestos fibers are commonly mixed during processing with a material that binds them together so that they can be used in over 20,000 building materials. Asbestos became a popular commercial product because it is strong, won’t burn, resists corrosion, and insulates well. Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) is defined, by regulation, to be materials that contain greater than 1% asbestos.

Asbestos Health Concerns

The same properties of asbestos that made it such a desirable material for building (durability, mostly) can cause serious health concerns. If inhaled, they can cause diseases that disrupt the normal functioning of the lungs because the components are not easily expelled or broken down by the body. Asbestos is now classified as a known human carcinogen. Three specific diseases have been linked to asbestos exposure:

  • Asbestosis, which is a fibrous scarring of the lungs
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity

These diseases do not develop immediately after inhalation of asbestos fibers; it may be 20 years or more before symptoms appear. Fortunately, asbestos testing can help protect you by detecting asbestos in your home or workplace before the fibers take a serious toll on your health.

The important thing to remember about asbestos is that it must be inhaled to pose a health risk. Because of this, only loose asbestos fibers that have seeped into the air supply are truly a health hazard. Typically, stable compounds such as tiles, cement, or other products are not an immediate hazard.

If you think your home or office may contain these hazardous materials, please click here to learn more about our asbestos testing services and call to set an appointment: (303) 257-8994