This information was gleaned from the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration. None of this information was written by the submitter, and no assumption should be made that this is original material. All material contained within this submission is copyright 2003 of the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration, which is reachable at http://www.osha.gov . Any questions or comments about this information should be directed to the OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA or at the following mailing addresses:
[DOMESTIC ONLY]: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration 200 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20210
[INTERNATIONAL]: U.S. Department of Labor OSHA Coordinator for International Affairs Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Room N3641 200 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20210
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals used in certain products, such as building materials and vehicle brakes, to resist heat and corrosion. Asbestos includes chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos, actinolite asbestos, and any of these materials that have been chemically treated and/or altered.
Those who come in contact with asbestos on regular occasions have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years.
Many abandoned locations will have asbestos tiling or pipe insulation present. It can very easily be crushed underfoot and become airborn, entering the lungs of an unprotected explorer. Areas which contain exposed friable asbestos will likely have air that is saturated with the microscopic fibers; the footsteps of explorers will kick up dust and increase the amount of asbestos present.
A common misconsception many have about asbestos is that concretized asbestos, of the sort that is often found in old garages and in roofing tiles, is safe due to the encapsulation within the concrete. In fact, this is not the case - concretized asbestos is indeed friable. Undisturbed areas which contain only concretized asbestos still test significantly higher than areas completely free of the substance, and areas in which heavy traffic is common test much higher. In addition, concretized asbestos tends to naturally degrade over time.
Although asbestos has been a known killer for over a decade, as of December 31st 2003, it will be illegal to store or re-use any products that contain the deadly fiber, although it is rarely used these days.