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What is asbestos and where is it found?

The use of some or other elements to satisfy the needs of the human being has evolved throughout history, from the use of stone in prehistoric times to the exploitation of a great variety of resources currently used for satisfy each and every one of our needs. Wood, fossil fuels, metals, precious stones, rocks and some minerals, such as asbestos.

Have you ever heard of this material? At AgroCorrn we explain what it is and where it is .

  1. What is asbestos and its properties
  2. Uses of asbestos
  3. Where is it located

What is asbestos and its properties

Asbestos is the term used to refer to a set of minerals of metamorphic origin , that is, formed from the transformation of other rocks or minerals due to natural processes, and fibrous, composed of silica fibers, and some metals like, iron, manganese, magnesium and calcium.

Depending on the size, shape, color and thickness of the fibers, we can identify different varieties of asbestos:

  • Chrysolite (white asbestos).
  • Crocidolite (blue asbestos).
  • Amosite (brown asbestos).
  • Asbestos anthophyllite (yellow asbestos).
  • Actinolita (green asbestos).
  • Tremolita (asbestos gris).

However, all its varieties have very similar characteristics. In fact, the term “asbestos”, from the Greek means “indestructible” due to the properties of this material. These are the main properties of asbestos :

  • Mechanical resistance, being able to resist great forces or pressures without breaking.
  • Resistance to abrasion, maintains its original structure when subjected to friction with other materials.
  • Resistance to heat, which makes it a suitable material for thermal insulation.
  • Flame retardant, it is not flammable and prevents the spread of fire.
  • Chemical resistance, resists erosion, impregnation or corrosion caused by acids, bases or chemical solvents.
  • Biological resistance, resistance to the action of biotic agents, fungi, pests, pathogens or other organisms.
  • Acoustic insulator, capable of preventing sound from penetrating a medium.

Uses of asbestos

The use of asbestos has taken place since very ancient times. There is data and evidence that shows that the Egyptians already used this material for the weaving of mats and the manufacture of sarcophagi, in the same way that the Romans used it to make highly resistant and fire-retardant fabrics, in fact, Charlemagne himself used layers of asbestos in their battles.

However, it was after the Industrial Revolution that asbestos reached its highest figures in terms of exploitation, marketing and sale, producing 5.7 million tons worldwide. Its use was mainly focused on the construction sector to obtain fiber cement, followed by the manufacture of friction products (brake pads or clutches) and, finally, in the textile sector.

Some other uses of asbestos include the production of gas and oil, the smelting of metals, the manufacture of wheels and tires, the repair of ships, boats and tankers used for transportation, and its use as an insulating material in nuclear factories.

Starting in the 1970s, its use began to decrease, due to the obvious effects and diseases suffered in workers who handled or were exposed to asbestos, finding multiple cases of asbestosis, lung cancer and the formation of mesotheliomas (cancer cells that are located in the thorax or abdomen). In fact, it is believed that, due to the massive use of asbestos and the prolonged period of appearance of the diseases related to it, it is in 2020 when the highest number of cases of lung cancer and respiratory diseases appear.

As a result of this, many countries have established prohibitions on its use, as well as laws to favor its elimination and withdrawal in a controlled manner, in order not to cause greater damage and harm to people’s health .

Where is it located

In nature , asbestos can be found practically in all parts of the world, attached to its bedrock in the form of layers , from where it is extracted, manipulated and prepared, until the final product of commercial interest is obtained, the most important deposits being located in the US, Canada, South Africa, China and Russia.

Due to its excellent properties, asbestos has been the protagonist of various applications and multiple uses, being possible to find this material in many industrial products or finishes such as insulation products, textiles, floor and countertop coverings, tiles, tiles, etc. paints or adhesives and, of course, in fiber cement, also known as uralite , the name of the company that sold asbestos in Spain, being one of the materials most used in the construction of concrete products and that, to this day, still it can be found in buildings and homes.

In fact, the elimination of the uralite is one of the current problems in the management and treatment of waste, so that, for its removal, it is necessary to contact specialized companies that guarantee compliance with the legislation and necessary security measures . If you want to know more about the management and treatment of asbestos as waste, you can access this other AgroCorrn article in which we talk about Where to throw uralite with asbestos .

If you want to read more articles similar to What is asbestos and where is it found , we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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