- Cancer of the lung tissue itself, and
- Mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs.
“Asbestos” is a generic name given to a fibrous variety of six naturally occurring minerals that have been used for decades in the development of thousands of commercial products. The term “asbestos” is not a mineralogical definition but a commercial name given to a group of minerals that possess high tensile strength, flexibility, resistance to chemical and thermal degradation, and electrical resistance. These minerals have been used in many products, including insulation and fireproofing materials, automotive brakes and textile products, and cement and wallboard materials.
The asbestos minerals have a tendency to separate into microscopic-size particles that can remain in the air and are easily inhaled. These fibers can become embedded in the tissues of the lung and digestive system. Once the fibers become trapped in the lung’s alveoli (air sacs), they cannot be removed. Persons occupationally exposed to asbestos have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has dramatically decreased, they are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.
Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer:
Other diseases related to asbestos exposure are asbestosis, an emphysema-like condition; and gastrointestinal cancer which is caused by ingesting asbestos-contaminated food. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years.
Summary of OSHA’s requirements for asbestos exposure among workers in general industry and describes the steps an employer must take to reduce the levels of asbestos, tremolite, anthophyllite, actinolite, or a combination of these minerals in the workplace.
This is followed by selected excerpts from the OSHA compliance directive for asbestos, CPL 2-2.63. It is a document developed to establish policies for OSHA enforcement of the asbestos standard, but it can be very helpful to know how the standard is being enforced.
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