Why Was Asbestos Used in Building Materials?

Asbestos is a mineral fibre that was commonly used in construction materials for its fire-resistant and insulating properties. However, it is now well-known that asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, which is why hiring an asbestos removal company is always the best option if you ever come across it. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why asbestos was used in building materials and why it is no longer considered safe.

Introduction to Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is made up of tiny fibres that are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals. Due to its durability and flexibility, asbestos was widely used in various building materials such as roofing shingles, insulation, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and cement products. In the past, asbestos was seen as a miracle material and was used extensively in the construction industry.

Properties of Asbestos

Asbestos has many properties that made it a popular building material:

  1. It is an excellent insulator and is resistant to heat and fire. It can also absorb sound, making it an ideal material for soundproofing.
  2. Asbestos is resistant to chemical corrosion and can withstand the wear and tear of daily use.
  3. It is inexpensive and readily available, making it an attractive option for construction companies.

Historical Uses of Asbestos

Asbestos has been used for centuries for various purposes, such as making pottery, candles, and clothing. In the 1800s, asbestos began to be used for industrial purposes, such as insulation for steam engines and boilers. Its use in the construction industry started in the early 1900s when it was used as insulation for pipes, boilers, and other heating and cooling systems. It was also used for roofing materials, floor tiles, and other building products.

Asbestos and Health Risks

Asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. When inhaled asbestos fibres, they can become lodged in the lungs and cause damage over time. Asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop and can be challenging to diagnose. Asbestos exposure can occur in various settings, such as construction sites, shipyards, and factories.

Regulation of Asbestos

In the 1970s, concerns about the health risks of asbestos exposure began to emerge. As a result, the use of asbestos in building materials was restricted and eventually banned in many countries. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use and disposal of asbestos. The EPA has set strict guidelines for removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials.

Alternatives to Asbestos

Asbestos has been largely phased out of the construction industry due to health concerns. There are now many alternatives to asbestos that are safer and more environmentally friendly. For example, fibreglass insulation is a popular alternative to asbestos insulation. Many eco-friendly building materials such as bamboo, recycled plastic, and natural stone are also gaining popularity.

Asbestos was once seen as a miracle material due to its fire-resistant and insulating properties. However, we now know that asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems. As a result, asbestos has been largely phased out of the construction industry and replaced with safer alternatives. While asbestos was once an integral part of the construction industry, its health risks outweigh its benefits.

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