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Asbestos: How It Changes the Environment

Asbestos was quite popular a few decades back, and you could find it in a lot of construction materials and household products. It’s safe to say that older homes built between the 1950s to the late 1980s would have asbestos as part of their insulation system, or even their walls and floors. Since it was proven to cause serious health problems, however, its use in household products and construction materials has been discontinued. Yet, the risks remain today. And it’s not just human health that asbestos threatens, but also the environment.


Read on to find out more about how asbestos changes the environment.

1. Tiny fibers of asbestos may hang suspended in the air for a long time.

When asbestos is disturbed, it causes the release of microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. These fibers are so light and tiny that they can stay suspended in the air for quite a while, where they pose a threat to anyone in or passing by the area. When inhaled, these fibers go into the respiratory system, where they may latch onto the walls of the lungs and eventually cause serious health problems.

2. Asbestos fibers do not dissolve in water, nor do they evaporate.

Asbestos fibers released into the air can be easily inhaled by humans or even animals, as they do not evaporate. They do not dissolve in water, either, so they can stay floating on water’s surface where fish and humans can ingest them while swimming.

3. Asbestos fibers cannot be broken down, nor can they pass easily into soil.

If asbestos fibers could be broken down, it would make all of our lives easier. Unfortunately, it cannot, and they would normally stay on top of the soil, waiting for anyone or anything to disturb them again and send them back into the air, where they can be harder to contain and clean up.

4. Animal life can be adversely affected by asbestos in the environment.

While not commonly heard of, animals are also susceptible to developing diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. So asbestos fibers released into the air and contaminating the environment definitely also poses a threat to animal life.

Asbestos negatively impacts not only human health, but also the environment. It’s imperative that we do all we can to minimize its damage. When asbestos presence is suspected, immediately contact a professional who has the expertise to deal with this deadly substance, or has been trained and has hazwoper certification from OSHA-accredited institutions.