A Description & History of Asbestos: How Infection Can Occur

Asbestos Compensation claim form.

Asbestos is a mineral composed of silicon, oxygen, hydrogen and other metal ions. Asbestos fibres insulate very well because they are strong, flexible and non-flammable. The three most common varieties of asbestos fibres are chrysolite, amosite and crocidolite. Asbestos is a tiny fibre, less than half the diameter of a strand of hair. In order to adhere to surfaces, it needs to be attached to something. When asbestos fibres are mixed with other materials, the product is called an 'asbestos containing material' or ACM.

Most health information on asbestos has been derived from studies of workers who have been exposed to asbestos in the course of their occupation. Asbestos fibre concentrations for these workers were many times higher than those encountered by the general public. Because asbestos fibres are extremely aerodynamic, virtually everyone is exposed to asbestos. Therefore, measures to minimize exposure may reduce the risk of adverse health effects.

Not only people who worked under conditions where they were exposed to asbestos are at risk to the related diseases. Family members may also be at risk; asbestos fibres easily become airborne and, therefore, can come into the home on the clothing of the worker. It is important for family members of asbestos workers to also be tested for exposure.