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Asbestos (pronounced: or ) is a naturally occurring fibrous
silicate mineral Silicate minerals are rock-forming mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), ...
. There are six types, all of which are composed of long and thin fibrous
crystals A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The molecules in a solid are closely packed together and contain the least amount of kinet ...
, each fibre being composed of many microscopic "fibrils" that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes. Asbestos is an excellent
electrical insulator An electrical insulator is a material in which the electron does not flow freely or the atom of the insulator have tightly bound electrons whose internal electric charges do not flow freely; very little electric current will flow through it unde ...
and is highly heat-resistant, so for many years it was used as a building material. However, it is now a well-known health and safety
hazard A hazard is a potential source of harm. Substances, events, or circumstances can constitute hazards when their nature would allow them, even just theoretically, to cause damage to health, life, property, or any other interest of value. The probabil ...

hazard
and the use of asbestos as a building material is illegal in many countries. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to various serious lung conditions, including
asbestosis Asbestosis is long-term inflammation Inflammation (from la, inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving i ...
and
cancer Cancer is a group of diseases A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Diseases are often kn ...

cancer
. Archaeological studies have found evidence of asbestos being used as far back as the
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
to strengthen ceramic pots, but large-scale mining began at the end of the 19th century when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties. Asbestos was widely used during the 20th century until the 1970s, when public recognition of the health hazards of asbestos dust led to its prohibition in mainstream construction and
fireproofing -based plaster fireproofing being installed. fireproofing of cable trays, using calcium silicate Calcium silicate is the chemical compound Ca2SiO4, also known as calcium orthosilicate and is sometimes formulated as 2CaO·SiO2. It is also ref ...

fireproofing
in most countries. Despite this, and in part because the consequences of exposure can take decades to arise, at least 100,000 people are thought to die each year from diseases related to asbestos exposure. Despite the severity of asbestos-related diseases, the material has been widely used all over the world, and most buildings constructed before the 1980s are thought to contain asbestos. Many developing countries still support the use of asbestos as a
building material Building material is material used for construction Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form Physical object, objects, systems, or organizations,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary' ...
, and mining of asbestos is ongoing, with top producer
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the world, covering over , and encom ...

Russia
having estimated production of 790,000 tonnes in 2020. In 1989, the EPA banned new uses of asbestos which prevent new asbestos products from entering the marketplace within the US.


Etymology

The word "asbestos", first used in the 1600s, ultimately derives from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages () ...
ἄσβεστος, meaning "unquenchable" or "inextinguishable". The name reflects use of the substance for
wick
wick
s that would never burn up. It was adopted into English via the
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spok ...
''abestos,'' which in turn got the word from Greek via
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
, but in the original Greek, it actually referred to
quicklime Calcium Calcium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ca and atomic number 20. As an alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical pr ...
. It is said by the
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive res ...
to have been wrongly used by
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...

Pliny
for asbestos, who popularized the
misnomer A misnomer is a name that is incorrectly or unsuitably applied. Misnomers often arise because something was named long before its correct nature was known, or because an earlier form of something has been replaced by a later form to which the nam ...
. Asbestos was referred to in Greek as ''amiantos'', meaning "undefiled", because it was not marked when thrown into a
fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecula ...

fire
. This is the source for the word for asbestos in many languages, such as the
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Souther ...

Portuguese
''amianto''. It had also been called "amiant" in English in the early 15th century, but this usage was superseded by "asbestos". The word is pronounced or .


History

People have used asbestos for thousands of years to create flexible objects, such as napkins, that resist fire. In the modern era, companies began producing asbestos consumer goods on an industrial scale. Now people recognize the health hazard that asbestos dust poses, and it is banned or strictly regulated in most nations around the world.


Early references and uses

Asbestos use dates back at least 4,500 years, when the inhabitants of the Lake
Juojärvi Juojärvi is a lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land, apart from any river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another rive ...
region in East
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of Bo ...

Finland
strengthened earthenware pots and cooking utensils with the asbestos mineral
anthophyllite Anthophyllite is an amphibole mineral: ☐Mg2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2 (☐ is for a vacancy, a point defect in the crystal structure), magnesium iron inosilicate hydroxide. Anthophyllite is polymorphic with cummingtonite. Some forms of anthophyllite ar ...
(see
Asbestos-ceramicAsbestos-ceramic is a type of pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types includ ...
). One of the first descriptions of a material that may have been asbestos is in
Theophrastus Theophrastus (; grc-gre, Θεόφραστος ''Theόphrastos''; c. 371c. 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos,Gavin Hardy and Laurence Totelin, ''Ancient Botany'', Routledge, 2015, p. 8. was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatet ...

Theophrastus
, ''On Stones'', from around 300 BC, although this identification has been questioned. In both modern and ancient
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, the usual name for the material known in English as "asbestos" is ''amiantos'' ("undefiled", "pure"), which was adapted into the French as ''amiante'' and into Spanish and Portuguese as ''amianto''. In
modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
, the word ἀσβεστος or ασβέστης stands consistently and solely for
lime Lime refers to: * Lime (fruit), a green citrus fruit * Lime (material), inorganic materials containing calcium, usually calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide * Lime (color), a color between yellow and green Lime may also refer to: Botany * Austra ...
. The term ''asbestos'' is traceable to Roman naturalist
Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natu ...

Pliny the Elder
's first-century manuscript ''
Natural History Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study. A person who studies natural history ...
'' and his use of the term ''asbestinon'', meaning "unquenchable". While Pliny or his nephew
Pliny the Younger Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo (61 – c. 113), better known as Pliny the Younger (), was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Rom ...

Pliny the Younger
is popularly credited with recognising the detrimental effects of asbestos on human beings, examination of the primary sources reveals no support for either claim. Athanasius in Alexandria, Egypt in about 318 A.D. wrote, "The natural property of fire is to burn. Suppose, then, that there was a substance such as the Indian asbestos is said to be, which had no fear of being burnt, but rather displayed the impotence of the fire by proving itself unburnable. If anyone doubted the truth of this, all he need do would be to wrap himself up in the substance in question and then touch the fire." Wealthy
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...
amazed guests by cleaning a cloth by exposing it to
fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecula ...

fire
. For example, according to
Tabari Al-Tabari (; fa, محمد بن جریر طبری, ar, أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير بن يزيد الطبري) (839–923 CE; 224–310 AH) was an influential polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, ', "having learned muc ...
, one of the curious items belonging to
Khosrow II Khosrow II (aka. Chosroes II in classical sources; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; Modern Persian: ''Khosrow (word), Husrō''), also known as Khosrow Parviz (Persian language, New Persian: , "Khosrow the Victorious"), is considered to be the ...
Parviz, the great
Sassanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...
king (r. 590–628), was a napkin ( fa, منديل) that he cleaned simply by throwing it into fire. Such cloth is believed to have been made of asbestos imported over the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush ( Dari, Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (, ). The language is natively spoken ...
. According to
Biruni Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (973 – after 1050) was an Iranian in scholar and polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, ', "having learned much"; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
in his book ''Gems'', any cloths made of asbestos ( fa, آذرشست, ''āzarshost'') were called ''shostakeh'' ( fa, شستكه). Some Persians believed the fiber was the fur of an animal called the '' samandar'' ( fa, سمندر), which lived in fire and died when exposed to water; this was where the former belief originated that the
salamander Salamanders are a group of amphibians typically characterized by a lizard Lizards are a widespread group of Squamata, squamate reptiles, with over 6,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic isl ...

salamander
could tolerate fire.
Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Große''). The French form and the Italian or () come from his nickname ("Charles the Great")., ''Karil' ...

Charlemagne
, the first
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) during the Middle Ages, and also known as the German-Roman Emperor since the early modern period ( la, Imperator G ...
(800–814), is said to have had a tablecloth made of asbestos.
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a Venetian merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the Silk Road The Silk Road was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and W ...

Marco Polo
recounts having been shown, in a place he calls ''Ghinghin talas'', "a good vein from which the cloth which we call of salamander, which cannot be burnt if it is thrown into the fire, is made ..." Some archaeologists believe that ancients made shrouds of asbestos, wherein they burned the bodies of their kings to preserve only their ashes and to prevent the ashes being mixed with those of wood or other combustible materials commonly used in funeral pyres. Others assert that the ancients used asbestos to make perpetual wicks for or other lamps. A famous example is the golden lamp ''asbestos lychnis'', which the sculptor
Callimachus Callimachus (; grc-gre, Καλλίμαχος, ''Kallimakhos''; 310/305– 240 BC) was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Līb ...
made for the
Erechtheion The Erechtheion (latinized as Erechtheum /ɪˈrɛkθiəm, ˌɛrɪkˈθiːəm/; Ancient Greek: Ἐρέχθειον, Greek: Ερέχθειο) or Temple of Athena Polias (Ancient Greek: Ναὸς τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς τῆς Πολιάδος, Greek: ...

Erechtheion
. In more recent centuries, asbestos was indeed used for this purpose.


Industrial era

The large-scale asbestos industry began in the mid-19th century. Early attempts at producing asbestos paper and cloth in Italy began in the 1850s, but were unsuccessful in creating a market for such products. Canadian samples of asbestos were displayed in London in 1862, and the first companies were formed in England and Scotland to exploit this resource. Asbestos was first used in the manufacture of yarn, and German industrialist Louis Wertheim adopted this process in his factories in Germany. In 1871, the Patent Asbestos Manufacturing Company was established in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science ...

Glasgow
, and during the following decades, the
Clydebank Clydebank ( sco, Clidbaunk; gd, Bruach Chluaidh, IPA: pɾuəxˈxɫ̪uə is a town in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, it borders the village of Old Kilpatrick (with Bowling, West Dunbartonshire, B ...
area became a centre for the nascent industry. Industrial-scale mining began in the Thetford hills,
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
, from the 1870s. Sir
William Edmond Logan Sir William Edmond Logan, FRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judged to be "eminently ...

William Edmond Logan
was the first to notice the large deposits of
chrysotile Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor (2007)29 C.F.R.&n ...

chrysotile
in the hills in his capacity as head of
Geological Survey of Canada The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC; french: Commission géologique du Canada (CGC)) is a Canadian federal government agency responsible for performing Geology, geological surveys of the country, developing Canada's natural resources and protectin ...

Geological Survey of Canada
. Samples of the minerals from there were displayed in London and elicited much interest. With the opening of the
Quebec Central Railway The Quebec Central Railway was a railway Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on tracks. In contrast to road transport, whe ...
in 1876, mining entrepreneurs such as Andrew Stuart Johnson established the asbestos industry in the province.''The storied province of Quebec : past and present. Volume V'' (1931)
Wood, WCH; Atherton, WH; Conklin, EP pp. 814–5
The 50-ton output of the mines in 1878 rose to over 10,000 tonnes in the 1890s with the adoption of machine technologies and expanded production. For a long time, the world's largest asbestos mine was the Jeffrey mine in the town of
Asbestos, Quebec Val-des-Sources (), formerly known as Asbestos (), is a town (Quebec), town in the Estrie (Eastern Townships) region of southeastern Quebec, Canada on the Nicolet River."Asbestos" in ''Encyclopædia Britannica, The New Encyclopædia Britannica''. Ch ...
. Asbestos production began in the
Urals The Ural Mountains (; rus, Ура́льские го́ры, r=Uralskiye gory, p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈgorɨ; ba, Урал тауҙары, ''Ural tauźarı'') or simply the Urals, are a Mountain range, mountain range that runs approximately fro ...

Urals
of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. T ...
in the 1880s, and in the of
Northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region in the northern part of Italy. Non-administrative, it consists of eight adm ...
with the formation in
Turin Turin ( , Piedmontese language, Piedmontese: ; it, Torino ; lat, Augusta Taurinorum, then ''Taurinum'') is a city and an important business and cultural centre in northern Italy. It is the capital city of Piedmont and of the Metropolitan City ...

Turin
of the Italo-English Pure Asbestos Company in 1876, although this was soon swamped by the greater production levels from the Canadian mines. Mining also took off in
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most populous nation a ...

South Africa
from 1893 under the aegis of the British businessman Francis Oates, the director of the
De Beers De Beers Group is an international corporation that specializes in diamond Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for te ...

De Beers
company. It was in South Africa that the production of amosite began in 1910. The U.S. asbestos industry had an early start in 1858, when fibrous anthophyllite was mined for use as asbestos insulation by the Johns Company, a predecessor to the current Johns Manville, at a quarry at Ward's Hill on
Staten Island, New York Staten Island () is a borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In principle, the term ''borough'' designates a self-governing walled town, although in practice, official use of ...
. US production began in earnest in 1899 with the discovery of large deposits in Belvidere Mountain. The use of asbestos became increasingly widespread toward the end of the 19th century, when its diverse applications included fire-retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat-, fire-, and acid-resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture and drywall joint compound. In 2011, it was reported that over 50% of UK houses still contained asbestos, despite a ban on asbestos products some years earlier.Don, Andrew (1 May 2011
Asbestos: the hidden health hazard in millions of homes
''The Guardian''.
In Japan, particularly after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
, asbestos was used in the manufacture of
ammonium sulfate Ammonium sulfate (American English and international scientific usage; ammonium sulphate in British English); (NH4)2SO4, is an inorganic salt (chemistry), salt with a number of commercial uses. The most common use is as a soil fertilizer. It contai ...

ammonium sulfate
for purposes of rice production, sprayed upon the ceilings, iron skeletons and walls of railroad cars and buildings (during the 1960s), and used for energy efficiency reasons as well. Production of asbestos in Japan peaked in 1974 and went through ups and downs until about 1990, when production began to drop dramatically.


Discovery of toxicity

In 1899, H. Montague Murray noted the negative health effects of asbestos. The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. In the early 1900s, researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in asbestos-mining towns. The first such study was conducted by Murray at the
Charing Cross Hospital Charing Cross Hospital is an acute general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to o ...
,
London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...

London
in 1900, in which a postmortem investigation discovered asbestos traces in the lungs of a young man who had died from
pulmonary fibrosis Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition in which the lungs become scarred over time. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a dry cough, feeling tired, weight loss, and nail clubbing. Complications may include pulmonary hypertension, respiratory failure ...
after having worked for 14 years in an asbestos textile factory. Adelaide Anderson, the Inspector of Factories in Britain, included asbestos in a list of harmful industrial substances in 1902. Similar investigations were conducted in France in 1906 and Italy in 1908. The first diagnosis of
asbestosis Asbestosis is long-term inflammation Inflammation (from la, inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving i ...
was made in the UK in 1924. Nellie Kershaw was employed at Turner Brothers Asbestos in
Rochdale Rochdale is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, at the foothills of the South Pennines in the dale (landform), dale on the River Roch, northwest of Oldham and northeast of Manchester. It is the administrative centre of the Metropo ...
,
Greater Manchester Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county and combined authority, combined authority area in North West England, with a population of 2.8 million; comprising ten metropolitan boroughs: Manchester, City of Salford, Salford, Metropolitan Borough ...

Greater Manchester
,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. En ...

England
from 1917, spinning raw asbestos fibre into yarn. Her death in 1924 led to a formal inquest.
Pathologist Pathology is the study of the causesCauses, or causality, is the relationship between one event and another. It may also refer to: * Causes (band), an indie band based in the Netherlands * Causes (company), an online company See also * Cau ...
William Edmund Cooke testified that his examination of the lungs indicated old scarring indicative of a previous, healed
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'' (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections show no symptoms, in which case ...

tuberculosis
infection, and extensive
fibrosis Fibrosis, also known as fibrotic scarring, is a pathological wound healing in which connective tissue Connective tissue is one of the four basic types of animal tissue (biology), tissue, along with epithelial tissue, muscle tissue, and nervous t ...
, in which were visible "particles of mineral matter ... of various shapes, but the large majority have sharp angles." Having compared these particles with samples of asbestos dust provided by S. A. Henry, His Majesty's Medical Inspector of Factories, Cooke concluded that they "originated from asbestos and were, beyond a reasonable doubt, the primary cause of the fibrosis of the lungs and therefore of death." As a result of Cooke's paper,
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws and overseeing the g ...
commissioned an inquiry into the effects of asbestos dust by E. R. A. Merewether, Medical Inspector of Factories, and , a
factory inspector A factory inspector is someone who checks that factories comply with regulations affecting them. UK Factory Inspectorate The enforcement of UK Factory Acts The Factory Acts were a series of Act of Parliament, acts passed by the Parliament of the ...
and pioneer of dust monitoring and control. Their subsequent report, ''Occurrence of Pulmonary Fibrosis & Other Pulmonary Affections in Asbestos Workers'', was presented to Parliament on 24 March 1930. It concluded that the development of asbestosis was irrefutably linked to the prolonged inhalation of asbestos dust, and included the first health study of asbestos workers, which found that 66% of those employed for 20 years or more suffered from asbestosis. The report led to the publication of the first asbestos industry regulations in 1931, which came into effect on 1 March 1932. These rules regulated ventilation and made asbestosis an excusable work-related disease. The term
mesothelioma Mesothelioma is a type of cancer Cancer is a group of diseases A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate ex ...
was first used in medical literature in 1931; its association with asbestos was first noted sometime in the 1940s. Similar legislation followed in the U.S. about ten years later. Approximately 100,000 people in the United States have died, or are terminally ill, from asbestos exposure related to shipbuilding. In the
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water that serves as a wide channel for the James River (Virginia), James, Nansemond River, Nansemond and Elizabeth River (Virginia), Elizabeth rivers between Old Point Comfort and Sewell's Point where ...
area, a shipbuilding center, mesothelioma occurrence is seven times the national rate. Thousands of tons of asbestos were used in World War II ships to insulate piping, boilers, steam engines and steam turbines. There were approximately 4.3 million shipyard workers in the United States during the war; for every 1,000 workers, about 14 died of mesothelioma and an unknown number died of asbestosis.Burke, Bill (6 May 2001
"Shipyards, a Crucible for Tragedy: Part 1: How the war created a monster"
''Virginian-Pilot'' Norfolk, Virginia (newspaper)
The United States government and asbestos industry have been criticized for not acting quickly enough to inform the public of dangers and to reduce public exposure. In the late 1970s, court documents proved that asbestos-industry officials knew of asbestos dangers since the 1930s and had concealed them from the public. In Australia, asbestos was widely used in construction and other industries between 1946 and 1980. From the 1970s, there was increasing concern about the dangers of asbestos, and its use was phased out, with mining having ceased in 1983. The use of asbestos was phased out in 1989 and banned entirely in December 2003. The dangers of asbestos are now well known in Australia, and there is help and support for those suffering from asbestosis or mesothelioma.


Use by industry and product type


Serpentine group

Serpentine Serpentine may refer to: Music * Serpentine (album), ''Serpentine'' (album), a 2002 goth metal album by Flowing Tears * Serpentine (song), "Serpentine" (song), a 2011 country song by Tiffany * Serpentines (Ingrid Laubrock album), ''Serpentines'' ( ...
minerals have a sheet or layered structure.
Chrysotile Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor (2007)29 C.F.R.&n ...

Chrysotile
(commonly known as white asbestos) is the only asbestos mineral in the serpentine group. In the United States, chrysotile has been the most commonly-used type of asbestos. According to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency A biophysical environment is a biotic Biotics describe living or once living components of a community; for example organisms, such as animals and plants. Biotic may refer to: *Life, the condition of living organisms *Biology, the study of life ...
(EPA) Asbestos Building Inspectors Manual, chrysotile accounts for approximately 95% of asbestos found in buildings in the United States. Chrysotile is often present in a wide variety of products and materials, including: *Chlor Alkali diaphragm membranes used to make chlorine (currently in the US) *
Drywall Drywall (also known as plasterboard, wallboard, sheet rock, gypsum board, buster board, custard board, or gypsum panel) is a panel made of calcium sulfate wiktionary:dihydrate, dihydrate (gypsum), with or without additives, typically extruded bet ...

Drywall
and joint compound (including texture coats) *
Plaster Plaster is a building material used for the protective or decorative coating of walls and ceilings and for moulding and casting decorative elements. In English, "plaster" usually means a material used for the interiors of buildings, while "rend ...
*Gas mask filters throughout World War II until the 1960s for most countries; Germany and the USSR's Civilian issued filters up until 1988 tested positive for asbestos *Vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives *Roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles *"
Transite Transite originated as a brand that Johns Manville, an American company, created in 1929 for a line of asbestos-cement products, including boards and pipes. In time it became a generic term for other companies' similar asbestos-cement products, an ...
" panels, siding, countertops, and pipes *
Popcorn ceiling Popcorn (popped corn, popcorns or pop-corn) is a variety of Maize, corn seed, kernel which expands and puffs up when heated; the same names are also used to refer to the foodstuff produced by the expansion. A popcorn kernel's strong hull contai ...
s, also known as acoustic ceilings *
Fireproofing -based plaster fireproofing being installed. fireproofing of cable trays, using calcium silicate Calcium silicate is the chemical compound Ca2SiO4, also known as calcium orthosilicate and is sometimes formulated as 2CaO·SiO2. It is also ref ...

Fireproofing
*
Caulk Caulk or, less frequently, caulking is a material used to Seal (mechanical), seal joints or seams against leakage in various structures and piping. The oldest form of caulk consisted of fibrous materials driven into the wedge-shaped seams bet ...
*Industrial and marine
gasket Some seals and gaskets A gasket is a mechanical seal 236px, Compression seal example A mechanical seal is a device that helps join systems or mechanisms together by preventing leakage (e.g. in a pumping system), containing pressure Press ...

gasket
s *
Brake A brake is a mechanical device A machine is a man-made Artificiality (the state of being artificial or man-made) is the state of being the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally through processes not involv ...

Brake
pads and shoes *Stage curtains *Fire blankets *Interior fire doors *Fireproof clothing for firefighters *Thermal pipe insulation *Filters for removing fine particulates from chemicals, liquids and wine *Dental cast linings *HVAC flexible duct connectors *
Drilling fluid Driller pouring anti-foaming agent down the drilling string on a drilling rig In geotechnical engineering#REDIRECT geotechnical engineering {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ..., drilling fluid, also called drilli ...
additives In the European Union and Australia, it has been banned as a potential health hazard and is no longer used at all.


Amphibole group

Amphibole Amphibole () is a group of inosilicate Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals made up of silicate groups. They are the largest and most important class of minerals and make up approximately 90 percent of Earth's crust 350px, Plates in t ...

Amphibole
s including amosite (brown asbestos) and
crocidolite Riebeckite is a sodium-rich member of the amphibole group of silicate minerals, chemical formula Na2(Fe2+3Fe3+2)Si8O22(OH)2. It forms a solid solution series with magnesioriebeckite. It crystallizes in the monoclinic system, usually as long pris ...
(blue asbestos) were formerly used in many products until the early 1980s.
Tremolite Tremolite is a member of the amphibole group of silicate minerals with composition: Ca2(Mg5.0-4.5Fe2+0.0-0.5)Si8O22(OH)2. Tremolite forms by metamorphism of sediments rich in Dolomite (mineral), dolomite and quartz. Tremolite forms a series with a ...

Tremolite
asbestos constituted a contaminant of many if not all naturally occurring chrysotile deposits. The use of all types of asbestos in the amphibole group was banned in much of the Western world by the mid-1980s, and in Japan by 1995. Some products that included amphibole types of asbestos included the following: *Low density insulating board (often referred to as AIB or asbestos insulating board) and ceiling tiles; *
Asbestos cement Asbestos cement, genericized as fibro or fibrolite - short for "fibrous (or fibre) cement Cement block construction examples from the Multiplex Manufacturing Company of Toledo, Ohio in 1905 A cement is a binder, a substance used for constru ...
sheets and pipes for construction, casing for water and electrical/telecommunication services; *Thermal and chemical insulation (e.g., fire rated doors, limpet spray, lagging and gaskets). Cigarette manufacturer
Lorillard Lorillard Tobacco Company was an American tobacco company that marketed cigarettes under the brand names Newport, Maverick, Old Gold (cigarette), Old Gold, Kent (cigarette), Kent, True (cigarette), True, Satin, and Max (cigarette), Max. The comp ...
( Kent's filtered cigarette) used crocidolite asbestos in its "Micronite" filter from 1952 to 1956. While mostly chrysotile asbestos fibers were once used in automobile
brake padsBrake pads are a component of disc brake A disc brake is a type of brake that uses the #Calipers, calipers to squeeze pairs of #Brake pads, pads against a disc or a "rotor" to create friction. This action slows the rotation of a shaft, such as a veh ...
, shoes, and clutch, clutch discs, contaminants of amphiboles were present. Since approximately the mid-1990s, brake pads, new or replacement, have been manufactured instead with linings made of ceramic, carbon, metallic and Aramid, aramid fiber (Twaron or Kevlar—the same material used in bulletproof vests). Artificial Christmas snow, known as flocking, was previously made with asbestos. It was used as an effect in films including ''The Wizard of Oz (1939 film), The Wizard of Oz'' and department store window displays and it was marketed for use in private homes under brand names that included "Pure White", "Snow Drift" and "White Magic".Asbestos in Fake Snow Wizard of Oz
Retrieved 19 December 2014


Potential use in carbon sequestration

The potential for use of asbestos to Climate change mitigation, mitigate climate change has been raised. Although the adverse aspects of mining of minerals, including health effects, must be taken into account, exploration of the use of mineral wastes to Carbon sequestration, sequester carbon is being studied. The use of mining waste materials from nickel, copper, diamond, and platinum have the potential as well, but asbestos may have the greatest potential and is the subject of research now in progress in an emerging field of scientific study to examine it.


Construction


Developed countries

The use of asbestos in new construction projects has been banned for health and safety reasons in many developed countries or regions, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and New Zealand. A notable exception is the United States, where asbestos continues to be used in construction such as cement asbestos pipes. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit Court prevented the EPA from banning asbestos in 1991 because EPA research showed the ban would cost between US$450 and 800 million while only saving around 200 lives in a 13-year timeframe, and that the EPA did not provide adequate evidence for the safety of alternative products. Until the mid-1980s, small amounts of white asbestos were used in the manufacture of Artex, a decorative stipple finish, however, some of the lesser-known suppliers of Artex-type materials were still adding white asbestos until 1999. Prior to the ban, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry in thousands of materials. Some are judged to be more dangerous than others due to the amount of asbestos and the material's friable nature. Sprayed coatings, pipe insulation and Asbestos insulating board, Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) are thought to be the most dangerous due to their high content of asbestos and friable nature. Many older buildings built before the late 1990s contain asbestos. In the United States, there is a minimum standard for asbestos surveys as described by ASTM standard E 2356–18. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive have issued guidance calle
HSG264
describing how surveys should be completed although other methods can be used if they can demonstrate they have met the regulations by other means. The EPA includes some, but not all, asbestos-contaminated facilities on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Renovation and demolition of asbestos-contaminated buildings is subject to EPA NESHAP and OSHA Regulations. Asbestos is not a material covered under CERCLA's innocent purchaser defense. In the UK, the removal and disposal of asbestos and of substances containing it are covered by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. U.S. asbestos consumption hit a peak of 804,000 tons in 1973; world asbestos demand peaked around 1977, with 25 countries producing nearly 4.8 million metric tons annually. In older buildings (e.g. those built prior to 1999 in the UK, before white asbestos was banned), asbestos may still be present in some areas. Being aware of asbestos locations reduces the risk of disturbing asbestos. Removal of asbestos building components can also remove the fire protection they provide, therefore fire protection substitutes are required for proper fire protection that the asbestos originally provided.


Usage by other countries

Some countries, such as India, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil, have continued widespread use of asbestos. The most common is corrugated asbestos-cement sheets or "A/C sheets" for roofing and for side walls. Millions of homes, factories, schools or sheds and shelters continue to use asbestos. Cutting these sheets to size and drilling holes to receive 'J' bolts to help secure the sheets to roof framing is done on-site. There has been no significant change in production and use of A/C sheets in developing country, developing countries following the widespread restrictions in developed nations.


11 September 2001 attacks

As New York City's World Trade Center (1973-2001), World Trade Center collapsed following the September 11 attacks, Lower Manhattan was blanketed in a mixture of building debris and combustible materials. This complex mixture gave rise to the concern that thousands of residents and workers in the area would be exposed to known hazards in the air and in the dust, such as asbestos, lead, glass fibers, and pulverized concrete. More than 1,000 tons of asbestos are thought to have been released into the air following the buildings' destruction. Inhalation of a mixture of asbestos and other toxicants is thought to be linked to the unusually high death rate from cancer of emergency service workers since the disaster. Thousands more are now thought to be at risk of developing cancer due to this exposure with those who have died so far being only the "tip of the iceberg". Some commentators have criticised authorities for using asbestos in the buildings' construction. In May 2002, after numerous cleanup, dust collection, and air monitoring activities were conducted outdoors by EPA, other federal agencies, New York City, and the state of New York, New York City formally requested federal assistance to clean and test residences in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site for airborne asbestos.


Asbestos contaminants in other products


Vermiculite

Vermiculite is a hydrated laminar magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate which resembles mica. It can be used for many industrial applications and has been used as insulation. Some deposits of vermiculite have been found to be contaminated with small amounts of asbestos. One vermiculite mine operated by W. R. Grace and Company in Libby, Montana exposed workers and community residents to danger by mining vermiculite contaminated with asbestos, typically richterite, winchite, actinolite or tremolite. Vermiculite contaminated with asbestos from the Libby mine was used as insulation in residential and commercial buildings through Canada and the United States. W. R. Grace and Company's loose-fill vermiculite was marketed as Zonolite but was also used in sprayed-on products such as Monokote. In 1999, the EPA began cleanup efforts in Libby and now the area is a Superfund cleanup area. The EPA has determined that harmful asbestos is released from the mine as well as through other activities that disturb soil in the area.


Talc

Talc can sometimes be contaminated with asbestos due to the proximity of asbestos ore (usually tremolite) in underground talc deposits. By 1973, US federal law required all talc products to be asbestos-free, and today there is strict quality control in the production of talc products, separating cosmetic-grade talc (e.g. talcum powder) from industrial-grade talc (often used in friction products) has largely eliminated this issue for consumers. In 2000, tests in a certified asbestos-testing laboratory found the tremolite form of amphibole asbestos used to be found in three out of eight popular brands of children's crayons that were made partly from talc: Crayola, Prang, and RoseArt. In Crayola crayons, the tests found asbestos levels around 0.05% in ''Carnation Pink'' and 2.86% in ''Orchid''; in Prang crayons, the range was from 0.3% in ''Periwinkle'' to 0.54% in ''Yellow''; in Rose Art crayons, it was from 0.03% in ''Brown'' to 1.20% in ''Orange''. Overall, 32 different types of crayons from these brands used to contain more than trace amounts of asbestos, and eight others contained trace amounts. The Art and Creative Materials Institute, a trade association which tested the safety of crayons on behalf of the makers, initially insisted the test results must have been incorrect, although they later said they do not test for asbestos. In May 2000, Crayola said tests by Richard Lee, a materials analyst whose testimony on behalf of the asbestos industry has been accepted in lawsuits over 250 times, found its crayons tested negative for asbestos. In spite of that, in June 2000 Binney & Smith, the maker of Crayola, and the other makers agreed to stop using talc in their products, and changed their product formulations in the United States. The mining company, R T Vanderbilt Co of Gouverneur (town), New York, Gouverneur, New York, which supplied the talc to the crayon makers, states that "to the best of our knowledge and belief" there had never been any asbestos-related disease among the company's workers. However media reports claim that the United States Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) had found asbestos in four talc samples tested in 2000. The Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health subsequently wrote to the news reporter, stating that "In fact, the abbreviation ND (non-detect) in the laboratory report – indicates no asbestos fibers actually were found in the samples." Multiple studies by mineral chemists, cell biologists, and toxicologists between 1970 and 2000 found neither samples of asbestos in talc products nor symptoms of asbestos exposure among workers dealing with talc, but more recent work has rejected these conclusions in favor of "same as" asbestos risk. On 12 July 2018, a Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged the company's talc-based products, including its baby powder, contain asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.


Types and associated fibers

Six mineral types are defined by the EPA as "asbestos" including those belonging to the serpentine class and those belonging to the amphibole class. All six asbestos mineral types are known to be human carcinogens. The visible fibers are themselves each composed of millions of microscopic "fibrils" that can be released by abrasion and other processes. File:White asbestos (Chrysotile).jpg, Chrysotile asbestos File:Asbestos fibres.jpg, Asbestos fibers File:Asbestos3USGOV.jpg, Asbestos File:Blue asbestos.jpg, Blue asbestos (crocidolite), the ruler is 1 cm File:Blue asbestos (teased).jpg, Blue asbestos, teased to show the fibrous nature of the mineral


Serpentine

Serpentine class fibers are curly.
Chrysotile Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor (2007)29 C.F.R.&n ...

Chrysotile
is the only asbestos member of the serpentine class.


Chrysotile

Chrysotile Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor (2007)29 C.F.R.&n ...

Chrysotile
, CAS No. , is obtained from serpentinite rocks which are common throughout the world. Its idealized chemical formula is Magnesium, Mg(Silicon, SiOxygen, O)(Hydroxide, OH). Chrysotile appears under the microscope as a white fiber. Chrysotile has been used more than any other type and accounts for about 95% of the asbestos found in buildings in America. Chrysotile is more flexible than amphibole types of asbestos, and can be spun and woven into fabric. The most common use was corrugated asbestos cement roofing primarily for outbuildings, warehouses and garages. It may also be found in sheets or panels used for ceilings and sometimes for walls and floors. Chrysotile has been a component in joint compound and some plasters. Numerous other items have been made containing chrysotile including brake linings, fire barriers in fuseboxes, pipe insulation, floor tiles, residential shingles, and gaskets for high temperature equipment.


Amphibole

Amphibole class fibers are needle-like. Amosite,
crocidolite Riebeckite is a sodium-rich member of the amphibole group of silicate minerals, chemical formula Na2(Fe2+3Fe3+2)Si8O22(OH)2. It forms a solid solution series with magnesioriebeckite. It crystallizes in the monoclinic system, usually as long pris ...
, tremolite,
anthophyllite Anthophyllite is an amphibole mineral: ☐Mg2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2 (☐ is for a vacancy, a point defect in the crystal structure), magnesium iron inosilicate hydroxide. Anthophyllite is polymorphic with cummingtonite. Some forms of anthophyllite ar ...
and actinolite are members of the amphibole class.


Amosite

Amosite, CAS No. , often referred to as brown asbestos, is a trade name for the amphiboles belonging to the cummingtonite-grunerite solid solution series, commonly from South Africa, named as a partial acronym for "Asbestos Mines of South Africa". One formula given for amosite is iron, Fe7Si8O22(OH)2. Amosite is seen under a microscope as a grey-white vitreous fiber. It is found most frequently as a fire retardant in thermal insulation products, asbestos insulating board and ceiling tiles.


Crocidolite

Crocidolite, CAS No. , commonly known as blue asbestos, is the fibrous form of the amphibole riebeckite, found primarily in southern Africa, but also in Australia and Bolivia. One formula given for crocidolite is sodium, Na2FeFeSi8O22(hydroxyl, OH)2. Crocidolite is seen under a microscope as a blue fiber. Crocidolite commonly occurs as soft friability, friable fibers. Asbestiform amphibole may also occur as soft friable fibers but some varieties such as amosite are commonly straighter. All forms of asbestos are fibrillar in that they are composed of fibers with breadths less than 1 micrometre, micrometer in bundles of very great widths. Asbestos with particularly fine fibers is also referred to as "amianthus".


Other materials

Other regulated asbestos minerals, such as tremolite asbestos, CAS No. , Calcium, Ca2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2; actinolite asbestos, CAS No. 77536-66-4, Ca2(Mg,FeII)5(Si8O22)(OH)2; and anthophyllite asbestos, CAS No. , (Mg,FeII)7Si8O22(OH)2; are less commonly used industrially but can still be found in a variety of construction materials and insulation materials and have been used in a few product (business), consumer products. Other natural asbestiform minerals, such as richterite, Na(CaNa)(Mg,FeII)5(Si8O22)(OH)2, and winchite, (CaNa)Mg4(Al,FeIII)(Si8O22)(OH)2, though not regulated, are said by some to be no less harmful than tremolite, amosite, or crocidolite.Occupational Exposure to Asbestos, Tremolite, Anthophyllite and Actinolite
U.S. Department of Labor. 1992
They are termed "asbestiform" rather than asbestos. Although the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not included them in the asbestos standard, NIOSH and the American Thoracic Society have recommended them for inclusion as regulated materials because they may also be hazardous to health.


Production

In 2017, 1.3 million tonnes of asbestos were mined worldwide. Russia was the largest producer with 53% of the world total, followed by Kazakhstan (16%), China (15%), and Brazil (11.5%). Asia consumes some 70% of the asbestos produced in the world with China, India and Indonesia the largest consumers. In 2009, about 9% of the world's asbestos production was mined in Canada. In late 2011, Canada's remaining two asbestos mines, both located in
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
, halted operations. In September 2012, the Quebec government halted asbestos mining.


Health impact

All types of asbestos fibers are known to cause serious health hazards in humans and animals. Amosite and crocidolite are considered the most hazardous asbestos fiber types; however, chrysotile asbestos has also produced tumors in animals and is a recognized cause of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma in humans, and mesothelioma has been observed in people who were occupationally exposed to chrysotile, family members of the occupationally exposed, and residents who lived close to asbestos factories and mines. During the 1980s and again in the 1990s, it was suggested at times that the process of making asbestos cement could "neutralize" the asbestos, either via chemical processes or by causing cement to attach to the fibers and changing their physical size; subsequent studies showed that this was untrue, and that decades-old asbestos cement, when broken, releases asbestos fibers identical to those found in nature, with no detectable alteration. Exposure to asbestos in the form of fibers is always considered dangerous. Working with, or exposure to, material that is friable, or materials or works that could cause release of loose asbestos fibers, is considered high risk. In general, people who become ill from inhaling asbestos have been regularly exposed in a job where they worked directly with the material. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has standards to protect workers from the hazards of exposure to asbestos in the workplace. The permissible exposure limit for asbestos is 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight-hour time-weighted average, with an excursion limit of 1.0 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter over a 30-minute period. The most common diseases associated with chronic exposure to asbestos are asbestosis and mesothelioma.


Regulation


Complete bans on asbestos

Worldwide, 67 countries and territories (including those in the European Union) have banned the use of asbestos. Exemptions for minor uses are permitted in some countries listed; however, all countries listed must have banned the use of all types of asbestos.


Australia

The use of crocidolite (blue asbestos) was banned in 1967, while the use of amosite (brown asbestos) continued in the construction industry until the mid-1980s. It was finally banned from building products in 1989, though it remained in gaskets and brake linings until 31 December 2003, and cannot be imported, used or recycled. Asbestos continues to be a problem in Australia. Two out of three homes in Australia built between World War II and the early 1980s still contain asbestos. The union that represents workers tasked with modifying electrical meter boxes at residences stated that workers should refuse to do this work until the boxes have been inspected for asbestos, and the head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (Australian Council of Trade Unions, ACTU) has called on the government to protect its citizens by ridding the country of asbestos by 2030. Handlers of asbestos materials must have a B-Class license for bonded asbestos and an A-Class license for friable asbestos. The town of Wittenoom, Western Australia, Wittenoom, in Western Australia was built around a (blue) asbestos mine. The entire town continues to be contaminated, and has been disincorporated, allowing local authorities to remove references to Wittenoom from maps and roadsigns.


Canada

From 31 December 2018 it was illegal to import, manufacture, sell, trade or use products made from asbestos. There are exemptions for its use in the chlor-alkali industry, the military, nuclear facilities and for magnesium extraction from asbestos mining residues.


Japan

Revelations that hundreds of workers had died in Japan over the previous few decades from diseases related to asbestos sparked a scandal in mid-2005.Japanese Asbestos Scandal
. Asia Monitor Resource Center. 28 September 2007
Tokyo had, in 1971, ordered companies handling asbestos to install ventilators and check health on a regular basis; however, the Japanese government did not ban crocidolite and amosite until 1995, and a near complete ban with a few exceptions on asbestos was implemented in 2006, with the remaining exceptions being removed in March 2012 for a full-fledged ban.


New Zealand

In 1984, the import of raw amphibole (blue and brown) asbestos into New Zealand was banned. In 2002 the import of chrysotile (white) asbestos was also banned. In 2015 the government announced that the importation of asbestos would be completely banned with very limited exceptions (expected to be applied to replacement parts for older machines) that would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. North-west of Nelson, in the Upper Takaka Valley is New Zealand's only commercially harvested asbestos mine. A low-grade Chrysotile was mined here from 1908 to 1917 but only 100 tons was washed and taken out by packhorse. A new power scheme enabled work to renew and between 1940 and 1949, 40 tons a month was mined by the Hume Company. This continued to 1964, when, due to the short length of its fibre, the limited commercial viability forced mining to cease.


Singapore

Asbestos in building materials has been completely banned in Singapore since 1989, the first Asia-Pacific country at the time to impose such a drastic ban.


South Korea

In May 1997, the manufacture and use of
crocidolite Riebeckite is a sodium-rich member of the amphibole group of silicate minerals, chemical formula Na2(Fe2+3Fe3+2)Si8O22(OH)2. It forms a solid solution series with magnesioriebeckite. It crystallizes in the monoclinic system, usually as long pris ...
and amosite, commonly known as blue and brown asbestos, were fully banned in South Korea. In January 2009, a full-fledged ban on all types of asbestos occurred when the government banned the manufacture, import, sale, storage, transport or use of asbestos or any substance containing more than 0.1% of asbestos. In 2011, South Korea became the world's sixth country to enact an asbestos harm aid act, which entitles any Korean citizen to free lifetime medical care as well as monthly income from the government if he or she is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, blue and brown asbestos materials were banned outright in 1985 while the import, sale and second hand reuse of white asbestos was outlawed in 1999. The 2012 Control of Asbestos Regulations state that owners of non-domestic buildings (e.g., factories and offices) have a "duty to manage" asbestos on the premises by making themselves aware of its presence and ensuring the material does not deteriorate, removing it if necessary. Employers, e.g. construction companies, whose operatives may come into contact with asbestos must also provide annual asbestos training to their workers.


Countries where asbestos is legal


United States

The United States remains one of the few developed countries to not completely ban asbestos. In 1989 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule but in 1991, asbestos industry supporters challenged and overturned the ban in a landmark lawsuit: ''Corrosion Proof Fittings v. the Environmental Protection Agency''. Although the case resulted in several small victories for asbestos regulation, the EPA ultimately did not put an end to asbestos use. The ruling left many consumer products that can still legally contain trace amounts of asbestos. Six categories of asbestos-containing products are however banned: corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt and any new uses of asbestos. The Clean Air Act of 1963, Clean Air Act also bans asbestos pipe insulation and asbestos block insulation on components such as boilers and hot water tanks, and spray-applied surfacing asbestos-containing materials. The Consumer Product Safety Act bans asbestos in artificial fireplace embers and wall patching compounds. The Food and Drug Administration bans asbestos-containing filters in pharmaceutical manufacturing, processing and packing. In 2010, Washington (state), Washington banned asbestos in automotive brakes starting in 2014.


Mexico

Since 1970, as a result of increased regulation of asbestos in Europe and in the United States, there was a massive transfer of asbestos-processing enterprises to Mexico. Asbestos is used in many products – roofing, boilers, pipes, brakes, and wires, produced by over 2,000 Mexican companies, many of them subsidiaries or subcontractors of US companies, and sold throughout the Americas. In 2000, 58% of Mexican asbestos-containing exports went to the United States, and 40% to Central American countries and Cuba.


Vietnam

In Vietnam, chrysotile asbestos is not banned and still widely used. Amphibole asbestos is banned from trade and use. Vietnam is one of the top 10 asbestos users in the world, with an annual import volume of about 65,000–70,000 tons of chrysotile.Tấm lợp amiăng, kẻ giết người?
báo Pháp Luật, 10 July 2017, language=vietnamese
About 90% of the imported asbestos is used to produce about 100 million m2 of cement roofing sheets (asbestos-cement). According to one study, among 300 families in Yen Bai, Thanh Hoa, 85% of households use asbestos roofing sheets, but only 5% know about their harms. However, the master plan (for construction materials development to 2020 with orientation to 2030 submitted by the Ministry of Construction (Vietnam), Ministry of Construction to the Government in January 2014) still suggests continued use of chrysotile for a long time.Xây dựng mạng lưới cấm sử dụng amiăng trắng ở Việt Nam
báo Pháp Luật, 27 November 2014, language=vietnamese


Substitutes for asbestos in construction

Glass wool, Fiberglass insulation was invented in 1938 and is now the most commonly used type of building insulation materials, insulation material. The safety of this material has also been called into question due to similarities in material structure. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer removed fiberglass from its list of possible human carcinogens in 2001. A scientific review article from 2011 claimed epidemiology data was inconsistent and concluded that the IARC's decision to downgrade the carcinogenic potential of fiberglass was valid. However, this study was funded by a sponsored research contract from the North American Insulation Manufacturer's Association. In 1978, a highly texturized fiberglass fabric was invented by Bal Dixit, called Zetex (fabric), Zetex. This fabric is lighter than asbestos, but offers the same bulk, thickness, hand, feel, and abrasion resistance as asbestos. The fiberglass was texturized to eliminate some of the problems that arise with fiberglass, such as poor abrasion resistance and poor seam strength. In Europe, mineral wool and glass wool are the main insulators in houses. Many companies that produced asbestos-cement products that were reinforced with asbestos fibers have developed products incorporating organic fibers. One such product was known as "Eternit" and another "Everite" now use "Nutec" fibers which consist of organic fibers, portland cement and silica. Cement-bonded wood fiber is another substitute. Stone fibers are used in gaskets and friction materials. Another potential fiber is polybenzimidazole or PBI fiber. Polybenzimidazole fiber is a synthetic fiber with a high melting point of that also does not ignite. Because of its exceptional thermal and chemical stability, it is often used by fire departments and space agencies.


Recycling and disposal

In most developed countries, asbestos is typically disposed of as hazardous waste in designated landfill sites. The demolition of buildings containing large amounts of asbestos based materials pose particular problems for builders and property developers – such buildings often have to be deconstructed piece by piece, or the asbestos has to be painstakingly removed before the structure can be razed by mechanical or explosive means. One such example is the Red Road Flats in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science ...

Glasgow
, Scotland which used huge amounts of asbestos cement board for wall panelling – British health and safety regulations stipulate that asbestos material has to be removed in specially adapted vehicles and taken to a landfill site with an appropriate permit to accept asbestos, via an approved route, at certain times of the day. In the United States, the EPA governs the removal and disposal of asbestos strictly. Companies that remove asbestos must comply with EPA licensing. These companies are called EPA licensed asbestos contractors. Anytime one of these asbestos contractors performs work a test consultant has to conduct strict testing to ensure the asbestos is completely removed. Asbestos can be destroyed by ultra-high-temperature incineration and plasma (physics), plasma melting process. A process of thermal decomposition at produces a mixture of non-hazardous silicon-based wastes, and at temperatures above it produces silicate glass. Microwave thermal treatment can be used in an industrial manufacturing process to transform asbestos and asbestos-containing waste into porcelain stoneware tiles, porous single-fired wall tiles, and ceramic bricks. The combination of oxalic acid with ultrasound fully degrades chrysotile asbestos fibers.


Abbreviations associated with asbestos

*ACM - Asbestos-containing material (technically, material containing more than 1% asbestos) *AIB - Asbestos insulating board (AIB)Health and Safety Executive
Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB)
accessed 23 June 2020


See also

* Asbestine * Asbestos abatement * Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization * Medical geology * Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation * Red List building materials


References


Bibliography

*


Further reading

*George B. Guthrie and Brooke T. Mossman, editors, ''Health Effects of Mineral Dusts'', Mineralogical Society of America ''Reviews in Mineralogy'' v. 28, 584 pages (1993) .
Asbestos: an introduction
by JW Cherrie *


External links


Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Information Centre
Independent site with information about asbestos and its use in buildings



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Deaths and major morbidity from asbestos-related diseases in Asia likely to surge in next 20 years

British Government Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Asbestos

World Health Organization – Asbestos page

Asbestos general article
an
chrysotile specifically
comprehensive coverage of all aspects of chemistry, biological interactions, destruction, and social/clinical scientific knowledge related to Asbestos, on the Toxicology Data Network, with full library of cites on many aspects and sub-topics].
Parachrysotile (asbestos)
at the webmineral.com Mineral Database



– The origins of asbestos mining, illustrated with many early photographs
How to Identify Asbestos
– Independent site citing how to identify the early signs of Asbestos and actions to take {{Authority control Asbestos, Hazardous air pollutants Carcinogens IARC Group 1 carcinogens Occupational safety and health Industrial minerals