Tuesday, February 28, 2006

About Asbestos

Author: Michael Russell

Everyone that has ever heard of asbestos knows that it is extremely dangerous. Nevertheless, not everyone is familiar with what this toxin is and what kind of precise dangers it poses to those individuals that are exposed. Let's take a look at some of the dangers associated with this hazard below.

Asbestos is actually a mixture of six natural minerals and it can be found in older buildings, older textiles and older plastic products. It is much like fiberglass in consistency and when it is airborne it is extremely dangerous and toxic to humans and animals alike. Asbestos, when airborne can lead to a disease termed, asbestosis - a form of lung cancer. In essence, long term exposure results in the damage of lung tissues which are irreversibly scarred and permanently damaged.

Anyone who has endured long term exposure may begin exhibiting the signs and symptoms frequently associated with asbestosis: severe difficulty breathing, spasmodic coughing fits, and in worse case scenarios, exposure can lead to death. Likewise, gastrointestinal cancer, cancer of the esophagus, mesothelioma, cancer of the intestines, is also a risk for those that are exposed. In addition, exposure to asbestos has also been known to wreak havoc with the human immune system, weakening it to a state where it does not function properly. Clearly, exposure to this natural hazard is extremely dangerous. Yet, what can people do to protect themselves from exposure? No matter where one discovers a source of these minerals, whether they are from old building materials like special cement or other products, it is imperative that they act quickly to have them immediately removed.

There are a number of companies that focus on the removal of this toxic hazard. Testing can be conducted to detect the hazardous material and if the test proves positive it is imperative that the property owner takes measures to ensure its immediate and safe removal.

No one should ever attempt to remove hazardous, toxic material themselves: especially in terms of asbestos. The removal of this particular toxin requires trained professionals who are skilled at handling such poisons. First, the material will need to be wetted to keep the it from becoming airborne and threatening those in the surrounding area. Next, the toxic waste will need to be professionally contained and sealed and removed from the location. Workers will be required to wear special equipment to protect themselves, like respirators, coveralls, rubber boots, eye protection and rubber gloves to prevent the toxins from entering the body.

Further, warning signs will need to be posted during the process of removal. Air conditioning and heating systems cannot be used during the process of removal because doing so would promote the toxin's airborne travel. Likewise, any area being worked will have to be sealed off until the removal process is complete. Finally, all removal work will have to be followed up with a decontamination process. Clearly, the removal of this dangerous toxin is something that is better left to the professionals that are used to handling it.

About the author: Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Asbestos

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