Asbestos – a deadly mineral responsible for causing mesothelioma o gastro


Some parts of the world still use asbestos because it is cheap and convenient in manufacturing. Asbestos can still be found today and there have been several other minerals which also pose a threat to those who breathe in the fibers. Serpentine vs. Amphibole Asbestos

There are two different kinds of asbestos fibers. Serpentine fibers are curly and less harmful to the human body, because they are easier to flush out. Amphibole fibers are straight, rigid and sharp. This causes them to lodge into organs and tissues more easily than serpentine fibers. Amphibole fibers are more likely to cause mesothelioma and lung cancer than serpentine fibers. Asbestos Subtypes

There are six different subtypes of asbestos used in products: tremolite, actinolite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite. The three most common used asbestos types are chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite. These three are commonly found in construction materials and automobile parts, like brake pads. Chrysotile

Chrysotile asbestos is also known as “white asbestos” and is the most commonly used form of asbestos. It is primarily found in car gaskets, brake pads, brake linings, insulation, and cement. It is far less likely to become lodged in the lungs compared to the other forms of asbestos because of the serpentine nature of the fibers. Even though it is considered the “safest” form of asbestos, it can still cause illnesses like mesothelioma. Amosite

Amosite asbestos is also known as “brown asbestos” or grunerite in its natural form. It is one of the more dangerous forms of asbestos to come in contact with. Amosite has been used to make ceiling tiles, insulation, fire protection, and cement sheets. These fibers are extremely friable, meaning they crumble easily. This results in airborne particles that can be inhaled. Amosite asbestos is made up of amphibole fibers which have a higher risk of causing cancers. Crocidolite

Asbestos has been mined in the United States since the 1900’s. It is currently mined using an open-pit (open area similar to a valley) method. When asbestos is first extracted, it resembles old wood. It is then refined to a fluffy fiber. The refined asbestos is then added to other materials, like cement or insulation, to form an asbestos containing material.

It is impossible to pinpoint the first uses of asbestos, but archeologists have found traces of the mineral in Scandinavian excavations (pointing to 3000 B.C.). Greek and Romans used the material as fire retardant cloth and building materials.

There are traces of asbestos in suits of armor in the medieval times and for embalming pharaohs in ancient Egypt. The hazards of asbestos were noted in civilized Roman times. Pliny the Elder noted many slaves who worked with asbestos were dying young. Many have speculated that this was mesothelioma or similar complications.

As the Industrial Revolution engulfed America in the early 1800′s, manufacturers found asbestos helped to insulate pipes and fireboxes. Soon, asbestos was mined and used in every facet of construction and manufacturing. It was also used in shipyards, railroad cars, and automotive factories. As time went on, the demand for asbestos increased.

In 1898, inspectors in Great Britain called asbestos one of the top four deadliest dusts in the world. In the early 1900’s, however, the amount invested in insurance policies began decreasing for those with occupational exposure to asbestos.

Erionite is a naturally occurring fiber that is found in volcanic ash. It is often compared to asbestos because of its hazardous fibers. Erionite can be found in fibrous form, like asbestos and vermiculite. In the past, erionite was not seen as a health risk.

However, it has proven a hazard to those who come into contact with it. Patients have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to erionite. These fibers are only a threat if they become airborne. Studies have shown that erionite can be up to 800 more times as carcinogenic than asbestos.

Erionite is found in gravel, rock, or soil. It is no longer mined for use in commercial items. It has been used in minor amounts in the building of some homes in the Western part of the United States (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming). Taconite

Taconite is a sedimentary rock containing iron. After World War II, taconite was heavily used as a source of metal. It is commonly used in the production and manufacturing of steel beams and sheets. Shipbuilders and construction workers are commonly exposed to taconite products.

Taconite is compared with asbestos because of similarities in chemical makeup and the potential hazards. There have been cases of mesothelioma linked to taconite exposure. It is extremely prevalent in Minnesota, where there has been an increased number in mesothelioma diagnoses.

A large amount of taconite is mined and produced in “Iron Range”, Minnesota. This is an area in northern Minnesota famous for its large deposits of iron ore. Taconite products are commonly distributed into the surrounding Great Lakes Region.