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Asbestos

  • In: Encyclopedia of Epidemiology
  • Edited by: Sarah Boslaugh
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Health Research Methods , Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Asbestos, a mineral used as an insulator and fire retardant during much of the first half of the 20th century, is now a nearly ubiquitous environmental contaminant. Found frequently in buildings, asbestos may be present in a broad range of construction materials, from concrete blocks to flooring.
Asbestos is a human health threat because a single submicroscopic fibril, thousands of which make up a single asbestos fiber, can cause severe lung disease. Only when asbestos is pulverized are the dangerous fibrils released into a dust cloud, which may be inhaled or ingested. The safe removal of asbestos is therefore a delicate and time-intensive process and presents a high risk of exposure. Current practice is typically to leave asbestos undisturbed. It is estimated that billions of dollars ...
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