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Charlotte Home Inspector Explains Asbestos

June 23rd, 2010 · No Comments


Asbestos (from Greek ἄσβεστος meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”) is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals exploited commercially for their desirable physical properties. They all have in common their asbestiform habit, long, (1:20) thin fibrous crystals. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a formerly rare cancer strongly associated with exposure to asbestos), and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Since January 1, 2005, the European Union has banned all use of asbestos[1] and extraction, manufacture and processing of asbestos products.[2]

For environmental samples, one must normally resort to electron microscopy for positive identification.[3] Today, gravimetric and PCM/PLM techniques are employed. However, the latter techniques cannot readily identify the smallest, most hazardous, fibers, because they are limited to PM10 particulate size evaluation, which completely ignores ultrafine particles (UFPs).

Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, and its resistance to heat, electrical and chemical damage. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibres are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos was used in some products for its heat resistance, and in the past was used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.
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