Is asbestos harmful to health?
Until the seventies of the last century, asbestos was widely used in a variety of industries, primarily in construction. Then attention was drawn to his health risks. As a result of numerous studies, he was included in the list of carcinogens of the first category by IARC classification. At the end of the twentieth century, the use of asbestos in European countries declined sharply, and since 2005 the use of this material has been banned in most Western countries. In Russia, he is still one of the most sought-after materials.
What's the matter? Is asbestos harmful to health and how dangerous is contact with it in the home?
Asbestos - what is it?
Under this concept, a whole group of materials is hidden. Therefore, in order to find out whether this substance is harmful to health, one must first understand: what is it - asbestos? This is a group of materials from a class of silicates of natural origin. In Russia, large deposits of chrysotile-asbestos are in the Urals.
The mineral has a special fine-fibrous structure, microscopic tubes of which form flexible bundles. Due to this, it has excellent technological properties. The strength of the material is comparable with the best grades of steel, has low electrical conductivity and high heat resistance. Chrysotile asbestos is chemically inert: it does not dissolve in water, does not collapse under the influence of oxygen, solar radiation , ozone. The material is characterized by high fire resistance. When processing chrysotile, the fiber is fluffed and acquires a high ability to absorb other chemicals.
The essence of the question about the dangers of asbestos is that two types of material are distinguished. They are distinguished by their fiber structure and chemical composition. Amphibole asbestos is more dangerous to health, so its extraction and use is currently prohibited in all countries. Previously, this material was mined primarily in Europe, the US and Australia, so the main foreign studies of its harm are related to amphiboles, that is, to questionable, unclear.
Therefore, further, the issue and impact on the body of only chrysotile asbestos, which is less dangerous to health, will nevertheless be considered, but still belongs to recognized carcinogens, however, with a special mechanism of action.
Where is asbestos used
Asbestos is widely used in industry due to its unique properties and low cost. It is used in production:
- roofing products (slate and others);
- facade plates;
- wall products (foam concrete, chrysotile cement sheets);
- heat-insulating materials;
- asbestos technical products (filters, friction parts, brake bands);
- rubber products;
- protective layers in tunnels;
- various building, lubricating, glutinous, asphalt-concrete and other mixtures.
The damage to asbestos for health depends on the degree of contact of the airways with asbestos dust.
The effect of asbestos on the human body
Chronic poisoning with asbestos develops for a long time and is caused not so much by the mineral itself, as by the structural disorders that it causes, accumulating in the lungs.
When inhaling asbestos dust, which is formed during the production of this material or the mechanical destruction of products from it, some of the fibers fall into the lungs. Due to the fact that chrysotile asbestos dissolves even in a slightly acidic environment, a significant dose of dust and a long time of exposure to the body are required to accumulate it in the lungs. And even in this case, the harm of asbestos for a person can manifest in ten or more years.
The most likely development of bronchitis, caused by mechanical stimulation of microfiber dust of respiratory tissues. Also, perhaps, the development of asbestosis - with this disease, dust settling in the lungs, causes scar changes in the lung tissue.
Why is asbestos harmful for health from the point of view of cancer? It has been established that it is not a carcinogen by itself, but belongs to the group of promoters - substances that promote the effects of carcinogens on cells. He is associated with a rare oncological disease - mesothelioma.
According to research, Russian scientists, the risk of cancer in production, due to chrysotile asbestos, is 1 per 100 thousand. This figure is several orders of magnitude lower than for a group of smokers (8800 cases per 100,000). After the development of new norms and sanitary rules, no cases of asbestosis for 20 years have been recorded on the asbestos-producing enterprises of Russia under the maximum permissible levels (maximum permissible standards)!
To date, the use of amphibole asbestos in all forms is prohibited.
The technology of spraying asbestos on metal structures is derived from the application.
Asbestos chrysotile is recognized as a safe material provided it is controlled use. The list includes:
- the use of high density products that do not crumble dry;
- control of the level of asbestos fibers in the working area at the workplace (MPC 1 wave / ml);
- The dust and waste must be stored in a sealed container and disposed of under special conditions;
- workers at risk are systematically subjected to medical examination.
In domestic conditions, it is compulsory to follow the recommendations on sanitary standards:
- asbestos-containing building materials must have a corresponding certificate;
- wall panels and partitions of this material are covered with two or three-fold coating;
- in rooms where wet cleaning and disinfection are carried out, asbestos products must withstand the appropriate mode of exposure to disinfectants;
- It is unacceptable to use asbestos in ventilation boxes.
Despite the fact that according to the hazard class asbestos is classified as carcinogenic, the main harm to the body is the development of asbestosis with prolonged inhalation of dust in large quantities. This disease manifests itself in organic changes in the lung tissue (the formation of scars and nodules). With the observance of safety and health standards, this building material does not pose a threat to health!