If we took a poll, probably a vast majority of
people would recognize asbestos as a hazard. We know that it gets ripped out of
schools and other public buildings. We recognize that people die from asbestos
and that there are big class action lawsuits about the mineral.
There is a lot more we should know about this
hazard previously thought of as a miracle product.
The use of asbestos dates back to the Greeks
and Romans who used it to make cloth. It is a natural mineral, which varies by
name and color depending upon where it is mined. There are 6 different minerals
all lumped into the category of asbestos.
Asbestos is resistant to heat and most
chemicals. The tough fibers were used as reinforcement and for heat resistance
in many products for industry, homes and commercial buildings. It is a sneaky
carcinogen because it was easy to add the mineral to a host of products that
can disguise its presence to the naked eye. The reason for its widespread use
is that it saved lives from fire hazards and improved the characteristics of
Asbestos is Real
Personal for Millions of Workers
You might scratch your head on how this
happened. There was evidence of the medical risks of asbestos as early as 1920,
but workers were not told of the dangers until the mid 1970’s.
Millions of workers including my father have died
of asbestos related cancer. As a young man, I was exposed to asbestos in
everything from joint compound to insulation and ceiling tiles while working in
the family construction company.
With that said, my work as an asbestos testing
professional is highly personal. Asbestos exposure still occurs today in many
products and when it is removed by unsuspecting workers. Asbestos is still
heavily mined in Russia and does find its way into products being manufactured
Asbestos in the News
and on TV
Within the last two months, asbestos made the
news when the WTDV reporters found that samples of a highlighter makeup called “Just
Shine Shimmer Powder” that is sold in Justice stores contained asbestos.
By the way, this product targeted for young people also contained a handful of
toxic heavy metals.
Another example of possible asbestos that
appears regularly on HGTV is popcorn or stipple ceiling finish material. Up
until 1999, some manufacturers were adding asbestos to that material. Aspiring
homeowners love to remove texture from ceilings which in turn contaminates a
building with asbestos fibers.