The Environmental Impact of Asbestos

Used in the past during the constructions of homes and buildings, asbestos is now known to be harmful to both human health and the environment. As soon as it was discovered that asbestos was harmful, it stopped being used, however there are thousands of properties that still have asbestos in them due to its widespread use. This article explains what asbestos is, and why it is so harmful to the environment.

The Environmental Impact of Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

There are six different minerals that are often referred to as asbestos: actinolite, tremolite, anthophylite, amosite, crocidolite, and chrysolite. Each of these is made up of tiny fibres which were famed for being strong, and resistant to heat and chemicals. However, even though asbestos is a good construction material, it is harmful to human health. Many people opted to hire an asbestos removal company once this was discovered, however many older buildings still have asbestos containing products.

Health Problems in Humans

A number of serious medical conditions have been linked to asbestos. These include mesothelioma, which is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the tissues which line the chest cavity. In addition to this, a range of other conditions which affect the respiratory system and the lungs have been reported. This is because, when touched, the tiny fibres which make up asbestos come apart and can be easily breathed in. Smokers are three times as likely to be affected by asbestos as non-smokers, however anyone who comes into contact with the material has an increased likelihood of contracting a fatal lung disease.

Environmental Issues

Asbestos has also been proven to have a negative effect on the environment. A study completed in 2006 found that asbestos can travel for long distances before it settles, and so can contaminate areas that are far away from its source. Asbestos can easily be blown around and inhaled by humans, and it can also be blown into a water supply, which it will contaminate. The fibres are so small that they are unable to be seen by the human eye, and because they do not break down or biodegrade, they pose a significant risk to humans. The 2006 study found that even in countries where asbestos had been banned, humans were still at risk from it.

What Can You Do?

If you are currently working or living in a building that was built during the 1970’s, it’s likely that asbestos was used during the construction. However, usually there is no need to worry unless the asbestos has been disturbed or damaged in some way. Asbestos fibres will only enter the air if it has been damaged; if it hasn’t, it won’t affect your health. If you have noticed some damage, the best thing to do is to cover the area and call in an asbestos removal company. They will have the proper equipment and training to be able to remove the asbestos safely and dispose of it correctly. Once removed, you can rest assured that there is no risk to your health or that of the environment.