Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral too small to be identified with the naked eye. Under a microscope, asbestos is known by its long, fibrous structure. Asbestos is classified by the structure of the fibers. The first and most commonly found in buildings is serpentine asbestos. Chrysotile is the only type of asbestos in this classification identified by its layered appearance. Amphibole asbestos is characterized by a chain-like structure. Amosite, or brown asbestos, is the second most common form of asbestos found in buildings, making up less than five percent. Blue asbestos, called Crocidolite, is associated with high temperatures. The remaining classifications of asbestos are not contaminates in buildings.
Asbestos is mined for its strength and structural stability. It is not hazardous when found intact. Asbestos becomes a danger when its particles are broken up and distributed in the air. The long, fibrous particles can cause many health issues in this form. In this form, asbestos is termed "friable". Friable asbestos is dangerous. Non-friable asbestos, as found in building materials, is not dangerous and is not regulated unless its state is altered, leaving it friable. Inhalation of friable asbestos can have long-term, fatal health effects. Asbestos may also be ingested through contaminated water. Water systems constructed with materials containing asbestos may erode and introduce the fibrous particles into the water supply.
Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by asbestos inhalation. When asbestos is inhaled and trapped in the lungs due to its long, fibrous structure, the body releases an acid to attack the foreign particles. The acid does not have much of an effect on the asbestos, however it does succeed in creating scar tissue in the lungs. This scarring can eventually impede the proper function of the lungs and can lead to death.
Lung cancer is another result of asbestos exposure. Cigarette smoking increases the possibility of lung cancer. Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract has also been associated with exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs that is also linked to asbestos exposure.
Other effects of asbestos inhalation include high blood pressure and problems with the immune system.
Asbestos can be identified in the body through urine, feces or mucus sampling. Such tests can identify the fibers in the body. X-rays can not detect the presence of asbestos in the body but may be able to detect early signs of lung disease.
If you or someone you love developed a severe health condition due to asbestos exposure, you may be entilted to financial compensation for your pain and suffering. You must act quickly, for legislation under debate in the federal government could prevent vicitms of asbestos-related diseases from claiming a just settlement from those responsible for their conditions. Act quickly, and contact an asbestos disease attorney today.