What is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals whose fibers are strong, durable, and resistant to heat and fire. They are long, thin and flexible, allowing them to be turned into cloth.

Of the many forms of asbestos fibers, three are primarily used for commercial purposes:

  • Chrysotile, or white asbestos, has been very widely used in the US. It is white-gray in color and found in serpentine rock.
  • Amosite or brown asbestos.
  • Crocidolite or blue asbestos.

Amphibole asbestos (e.g. amosite and crocidolite) is very dangerous because of its dusty, needlelike fibers. Individuals that are exposed to this type of asbestos ingest the dust, which then becomes trapped in the lungs indefinitely. Over time, this can lead to asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma.

Asbestos fibers not often used for commercial purposes include tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite. However, these fibers are occasionally used as contaminants in asbestos-containing products.

Does Asbestos Still Pose a Health Risk?

Asbestos continues to be a health risk because it may still be part of buildings and products that were built decades ago. Asbestos-containing products may still be in industrial facilities, buildings, ships, and other structures and products where the fibers can become airborne. The ingestion of these fibers is the cause of malignant mesothelioma.

More importantly, malignant mesothelioma can develop up to 40 years after the initial exposure. The incidence of mesothelioma rises with the intensity and duration of exposure to asbestos. Cases have been documented of mesothelioma among people with very little exposure to the dangerous asbestos fibers. Many of those who are being diagnosed with mesothelioma today were unknowingly exposed during their time in the Navy many years ago.

If you or someone you know has a health risk associated with asbestos exposure, contact us to speak with an asbestos lawyer.

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