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Asbestos and MesotheliomaAsbestos is a term that refers to a group of six kinds of naturally occurring mineral fibers. Three types of these asbestos fibers have been used in commercial products and applications for over a century:
Chrysotile, or white asbestos, comes mainly from Canada and has been widely used in the U.S.
Amosite, or brown asbestos, comes from southern Africa.
Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, comes from southern Africa and Australia.
All three of these types of asbestos pose significant risks to humans who ingest or inhale them. Asbestos, after being mined and processed, consists of very fine, microscopic, needle-shaped fibers. These fibers are small enough that they cannot be seen unless the concentration in the air is very high. These fibers can also break easily into dust that can float in the air and stick to clothes.
Asbestos fibers can become lodged in the linings of organs Ã¢ÂÂ including the lungs, digestive system and heart Ã¢ÂÂ and cause inflammation, cellular damage and a variety of terminal diseases, including mesothelioma.
The Dangers of AsbestosAlthough the dangers of asbestos have been widely known for decades, companies used the mineral to make a number of products since it mixed well into other materials and made products stronger, more flexible and fire-retardant. Since the fibers do not dissolve or evaporate with water, the fibers are easy to mix. As a result, asbestos was used in products commonly found in homes and on job sites throughout the United States.
In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos also increases the risk of lung, colorectal, gastrointestinal, kidney, esophageal and gall bladder cancer.