Asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator and is highly heat-resistant. For many years it was used as a building material, but it is now a well-known health and safety hazard. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to various serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer. At least 100,000 people are thought to die each year from diseases related to asbestos exposure.
About Asbestos in brief
Asbestos is one of six naturally occurring silicate minerals. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals. Each fibre is composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes. Asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator and is highly heat-resistant. For many years it was used as a building material, but it is now a well-known health and safety hazard. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to various serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer. At least 100,000 people are thought to die each year from diseases related to asbestos exposure. Despite the severity of asbestos-related diseases, the material has been widely used all over the world, and most buildings constructed before the 1980s are believed to contain asbestos. In the modern era, companies began producing asbestos consumer goods on an industrial scale. Many developing countries still support the use of asbestos as aBuilding material, and mining of asbestos is ongoing, with top producer Russia having produced about one million tonnes in 2015. People have used asbestos for thousands of years to create flexible objects, such as napkins, that resist fire. Some Persians believed the fiber was the fur of an animal called the samandar, which lived in fire and died when exposed to water. Such cloth is believed to have been made of asbestos imported over the Hindu Kush in Biruni, where it was called shosthake.
The term asbestos is traceable to Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder’s manuscript Natural History and his use of the term asbestinon, meaning ‘unquenchable’ or ‘inextinguishable’ It was adopted into English via the Old French abestos, which in turn got the word from Greek via Latin, but in the original Greek, it actually referred to quicklime. It had also been called ‘amiant’ in English in the early 15th century, but this usage was superseded by \”asbestos\”. The word is pronounced æsˈbɛstəs or ‘asbestos’ in the Portuguese amianto. It is said by the Oxford English Dictionary to have was wrongly used by Pliny for asbestos, who popularized the misnomer. In modern Greek, the word stands consistently and solely for lime. The word ultimately derives from the Ancient Greek ἄσβετης, meaning ‘inextinction’ or ‘undefiled’, which is the source for the word for asbestos in many languages, like the Portuguese amianto and the Spanish amiante. It was also called ‘amiante’ in French and Spanish and Portuguese as ‘Amianto’ and ‘asbestos’ was used in English from the 16th century until the early 20th century. It’s believed that Pliny or his nephew Pliny is popularly credited with recognising the detrimental effects on human beings by exposing a cloth to fire.