What is asbestos ?

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What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been used widely in many industries.

Chemically, asbestos minerals are silicate compounds, meaning they contain atoms of silicon and oxygen in their molecular structure.

Asbestos minerals are divided into two major groups: Serpentine asbestos and amphibole asbestos. Serpentine asbestos includes the mineral chrysotile, which has long, curly fibers that can be woven. Chrysotile asbestos is the form that has been used most widely in commercial applications. Amphibole asbestos includes the minerals actinolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and amosite. Amphibole asbestos has straight, needle-like fibers that are more brittle than those of serpentine asbestos and are more limited in their ability to be fabricated.

What factors affect the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease?
Several factors can help to determine how asbestos exposure affects an individual, including :

Dose (how much asbestos an individual was exposed to).
Duration (how long an individual was exposed).
Size, shape, and chemical makeup of the asbestos fibers.
Source of the exposure.
Individual risk factors, such as smoking and pre-existing lung disease.
Although all forms of asbestos are considered hazardous, different types of asbestos fibers may be associated with different health risks. For example, the results of several studies suggest that amphibole forms of asbestos may be more harmful than chrysotile, particularly for mesothelioma risk, because they tend to stay in the lungs for a longer period of time.
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What is asbestos ? | Toni Suala | 5

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