The Real Story of Asbestos

More than 4,500 years ago, Finnish potterymakers discovered a stone make use of thin fibers that mixed really well with the clay theyused to procreate potties. This stone was so strong, and yet flexible, that they could use it to make their pots thinner and bigger than ever. Plus, it wassurprisingly resistant to heat, so the bowls could contain things like sizzling metal.It seemed like a supernatural stone, and eventually, the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all started squandering it, very. That rock-and-roll was what we now call asbestos, andeventually, we found out that it was too good to be true and stopped exerting it as much. But that took a while. The command asbestos actually refers to six differentminerals that all have the same habit, or method that their crystals grow.Theyre called asbestiform, which just meansthat they proliferate in long, thin, resilient fibers. That flexible, plus their strength andresistance to impair by heat and draconian substances, acquired these minerals unbelievably helpful in industry.The question is, inhaling asbestos fibers can be dangerous. Because to your lungs, those resilient fibersare more like sharp-worded little shards. You are likely imagine what happens if youbreathe them in: they get stuck in the mucus ordering of your lungs, which can make it difficultto breathe. Inhale too many shards over age, and theycan cause cankers like asbestosis, or disfiguring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a type oflung cancer. The different forms of asbestos with the most prominent healthrisks are a part of a group of stones called amphiboles, and what meets them motive morehealth controversies than others comes down to four of their chemical and structural properties. First, amphibole fibers are smaller, so theycan excursion deeper into the lungs. Theyre likewise sharper, so they can pierceyour lungs more easily, effecting irritation or initiating disfigure tissue.Plus, theyre hydrophobic, or water-avoiding, which can keep them from evaporating in mucus — if they melted, they could be coughedup and get out of your plan. Eventually, they contain iron, which are capable of reactwith oxygen in your lungs and damage the DNA in your lung cells. The damaged DNA can then perform the cells todivide too quickly, leading to a tumor. So they may be more carcinogenic, or cancer structuring, as well. So, how did asbestos vanish from being the miracle-rockof ancient potters to the scourge of modern industry? Even as far back as the Roman Empire, some2, 000 years ago, historians wrote about slaves coming what they called a sickness ofthe lungs after working in the area of asbestos mines.And when the first business asbestos minesopened in Quebec in 1879, asbestos-related health questions started testifying up in medicaljournals and contingency reports. One of the first well-studied deaths was in1 924 in the UK. Nellie Kershaw, whod been rotating asbestos into fibre since she was1 3, died at the age of 33 from asbestosis. When Parliament heard about the subject, theyasked a doctor known as E. R. A. Merewether to investigate the health of asbestos employees. For two years, he studied 374 laborers at anasbestos textile plant. He pointed out that inhaling asbestos fibers effected scarring in the lungs– and 17 out of 20 workers who had been there for more than 20 times culminated up with asbestosis. Merewether presented his paper to parliamentin 1930, and the UK started requiring ventilation in asbestos factories a year later. But it wasnt until 2003 that asbestos wasbanned throughout the European Union. The asbestos manufacture in the United Statesis a whole other floor. Asbestos was used a lot during World War II, since it was cheap, strong, and resistant to fire and substances. Naval war ships usedasbestos insularity, and structures were constructed with asbestos floor tiles, shingles, cements, and insulation for pipes.Production of asbestos in the United Statesfinally started to slow down 1979, when nine asbestos manufacturers registered a dispute againstthe federal government departments. In 1975, theyd paid $69,000 to an asbestosworker who developed asbestosis, and they wanted to be reimbursed. But the government wouldnt have any ofthat. Instead, they proved that the companies knew about, and had been hiding, asbestos-relatedhealth information for decades.The case got a lot of media attention, andpeople started to try to fix the problem by removing asbestos from builds. But theUS still hasnt entirely censored the use of asbestos. Even so, asbestos wont reason health issuesfor most people. Most of the fibers are so tightly secured intoanother material that they won’t flee into the air unless youre trying to remove theasbestos. Plus, every year we each breathe about a millionfibers time from the natural eroding of asbestos-containing cliffs. So unless youre an asbestos proletarian whosspent a lot of years without a ventilation disguise, or youre an ancient Finnish potter, you probably dont have to worry about coming an asbestos-related illness. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow, which was brought to you by our patrons on Patreon. If you want to help support thisshow, just go to patreon.com/ scishow. 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