What is asbestos? The actual word “asbestos” comes from the Greek language and means “indestructible or impervious”. Before there was such a negative definition associated with asbestos because of its nasty health effects, the word was synonymous with the following terms: strong, pliable and, most importantly, resistant. Asbestos material is resistant to heat, which is a chiefly important factor in why it was the preferred building material in many industry from commercial building to automotive.
Asbestos is made up of a set of strong, durable fibers that are not just resistant to heat, but resistant to outside toxins and other chemicals as well. Those fibers are almost impossible to break, which is why the substance was so widely used before 1980. When mixed with other materials, asbestos can be strengthened, which is why it was the staple ingredient for use in hundreds of fields, including residential buildings, maritime (ships and other water vehicles) and automotive, and more.
After many decades, scientists began to understand the health risks associated with asbestos and its use was discontinued. That was not before asbestos had the chance to affect many industries. One of the industries that was heavily affected by asbestos overuse was the mining industry. There were many diseases and ailments associated with asbestos use, including mesothelioma. After years of exposure, thousands of asbestos miners developed debilitating health issues and diseases. For example, talc is a material that you might be familiar with and one that was made possible through mining. Because of their prolonged exposure to asbestos, talc miners were among those who suffered greatly with various asbestos-related health issues.
Asbestos was arguably the favored building material of many industries for decades. So, it goes without saying that traces of asbestos remain in many older structures. As a result, the asbestos removal industry has continued to boom even after the use of the substance was discontinued in the early 1980s. Some of the most common places asbestos was used include:
On an everyday level, asbestos has been used in a wide variety of home appliances including our beloved coffee pots and the toasters we use to make our perfectly golden bagels. There are other appliances you might be surprised to learn have traces of asbestos. Items such as portable heaters and dishwashers, irons, and even wood burning stoves can contain the harmful substance. Up until as recent as 1980, asbestos could be found in most handheld hair dryers. To think, people thought using AquaNet was the most harm they were doing to their hair back then!
Even though asbestos use was phased out in the early 1980s, the material can still be found in a number of products. And, it is not just old buildings that contain the largest amounts of the substance. In fact, it is not uncommon to find asbestos in outdated and old-fashioned appliances that can be considered antiques. The electrical cords are where most of the asbestos was contained in antique and discontinued appliances. If you have older appliances that you believe may contain asbestos, it is best to replace them. Trying to repair the suspected areas of contamination may result in disturbing the asbestos, which causes the toxins to be released into the air resulting in and increased risk of contracting asbestos-related health issues. So, do yourself a favor and skip the urge to "do-it-yourself". Replace all old appliances to ensure an asbestos free home.