What Is Asbestos and Where Is It Found?
Asbestos is a generic term that describes a variety of naturally occurring mineral silicates that separate into fibres. Asbestos fibres are incombustible, possess high tensile strength, are flexible, and have outstanding thermal and electrical insulating properties, excellent acoustical properties, and good chemical resistance. These unique physical properties are the reason why asbestos became a popular component in a wide variety of industrial and commercial building products. Asbestos was widely used in British Columbia as a building material until the early 1990s. Never assume a building material is free of asbestos; you can’t tell just by looking at it. Asbestos-containing building materials were used extensively in the construction of public and commercial buildings.
Asbestos was commonly used in:
Gypsum board filling compound
Acoustic ceiling tiles
Thermal and electrical insulation
Insulation on boiler pipes and ducts
When and How Dangerous Is Asbestos?
When an asbestos containing material is disturbed, there is a chance it will cause the release of asbestos fibres into the air. Asbestos fibres are extremely fine and can remain suspended in the air for hours. Inhaling these fine fibres, over a prolonged period of time, can cause serious chronic health issues. Respiratory diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma have been associated with occupational exposures to asbestos. A latency period, between 10 and 35 years, is common between the initial exposure and recognizable symptoms of an asbestos-related disease. Medical evidence also indicates that cigarette smoking greatly enhances the potential of developing an asbestos-related disease.
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