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Employers Should Provide Workers With Asbestos Awareness Training

Although banned for use in 1999, asbestos containing products are still found in many everyday things and places. Because of the associated health risks employers are required to provide asbestos awareness training for all employees who are likely to encounter exposure in their day to day duties.

Crocidolite, Anthophyllite, Actinolite, Tremolite, Chrysotile, and Amosite, are the names of the six different minerals that make up the group known as asbestos. All of these minerals are found naturally in the earth. Of the six, the most commonly used three are; Chrysotile, which is white; Amosite, which is brown or off-white; and Crocidolite, which is blue.

Retrieved by mining, when opened up, these minerals are actually composed of millions of microscopic fibers. The fibers are so small that when released, they can stay adrift in the atmosphere for several days. A strand of human hair is seven hundred times larger than an asbestos fiber strand.

Seemingly indestructible, these fibers are known to be fire-proof, resistant to chemicals, and not broken down by time. Because they are so durable, their potential uses are many. These mineral fibers have been used in the manufacturing of over three thousand various products.

The mineral fibers were used with a number of other materials in the manufacturing of products found in everyday use. The amount of the fibers mixed with other additives used may vary anywhere from as high as one hundred percent to as little as one percent. The type of products covers everything from insulation made for plumbing to roofing and siding shingles to floor and ceiling tiles.

Despite its many useful characteristics, when its tiny fibers are released into the atmosphere, they pose a serious health hazard to anyone who breathes in the minuscule particles. Once inhaled, the fibers may lodge in the mucous membrane of the throat and nose. Here the threat to health is minimal as the fibers can still be removed. It is when the particles or even their dust manage to reach the lungs, or stomach that the real hazard exists.

Once allowed to pass through, they are stranded, and embed themselves in the stomach or lung tissues. Unable to be removed, they are also immune to the body's natural defenses, where they now become the cause of serious related health issues. These issues eventually may eventually lead to exposure related diseases, which are usually fatal.

The three most common diseases caused by exposure are; Asbestosis, a chronic respiratory disease that is caused when the dust and particles aggravate and scar lung tissues. Lung Cancer, which causes the largest number of exposure related deaths; and is found in a significantly larger number among those who mine the fibrous mineral, or who are involved in the manufacturing of its products than among the general population; and Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that occurs in the thin lining that surrounds the lungs, chest and abdomen.

Unless they have been damaged or disturbed, most asbestos-containing products are not considered dangerous. It is in its most dangerous form when it is friable. The term friable is used to describe the fibrous minerals state when it can be easily crumbled in ones hand. Insulation that is sprayed is a prime example of a friable product. Counter tops, ceiling and floor tiles, and siding or roofing shingles are usually only friable when they have been damaged. Asbestos awareness training is necessary so that workers can expect themselves from exposure.

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