What is Asbestos? What Does Asbestos Do? Why Was Asbestos Banned? Is Asbestos Carcinogenic?

What Is Asbestos What It Is What It Is Good For Asbestos Why Was Asbestos Banned?
What Is Asbestos What Is Asbestos Why Is Asbestos Banned Is Asbestos Carcinogenic

Asbestos (asbestos) or asbestos is a fibrous carcinogenic mineral. They are hydrated silicates in fibrous mineral structure, very resistant to heat, abrasion and chemical substances formed by silicon with sodium, iron, magnesium and calcium. It is also known as white soil, barren soil, sky soil, celpek, höllük or ceren soil among the people. Asbestosis is a dust disease caused by breathing in asbestos.

The use of asbestos, a natural silicate mineral, began in ancient times because it does not conduct heat, that is, it is a good insulating material. According to the information obtained from archaeological studies, it is known that the use of asbestos dates back to 2500 years ago.

After the second half of the nineteenth century, it started to be known as a magic mineral because it insulates heat and electricity, and is resistant to friction and substances such as acids. However, after the second half of the twentieth century, it was determined that it is a carcinogenic substance that causes significant harm to human health, and a lethal dust definition was made for asbestos.

The name of the mineral comes from the ancient Greek word “asbestos” meaning “insatiable for water”. Some European countries use the Latin word "Amiantos" meaning "lekesis" instead of asbestos. The Romans used to burn the dead people in a cloth made of fibrous material called amiantos to collect the ashes after they were cremated. In this way, the ashes of the deceased would be collected easily and the cloth they used would remain unburned. The Finns used the anthophyllite asbestos mixture found in their country 4.000 years ago to make pots and pans from clays. The Chinese also made history books that 3.000 years ago they made long-fiber white asbestos clothing and the wicks of oil lamps in temples from the same material. War clothes made of asbestos were used to protect the enemy soldiers from the hot water and oils thrown at the enemy soldiers in the defense of the castles in the wars. Although asbestos has been widely used for centuries, its health problems began to be understood at the beginning of the twentieth century. The reason for this is that an incubation period of more than 40 years is required for the disease to occur after inhalation, and people lived much shorter than today in ancient times.

Types of Asbestos

white asbestos
Chrysotile, known as white asbestos, is obtained from snakestone. Its use is completely banned in many countries. Very restricted use is permitted in the USA and some European countries. It can also be used in fabric making, as it is quite flexible. Its CAS number is 12001-29-5. It is used on the roofs of houses and corrugated cement roofing materials.

brown asbestos
Amosite, known as brown asbestos, is mostly mined in Africa. Amosite, whose chemical formula is Fe7Si8O22(OH)2, is very dangerous like other asbestos types. Its CAS number is 12172-73-5.

blue asbestos
Crocidolite with CAS no 12001-28-4 is mainly mined in Africa and Australia. Crocidolite, one of the chemical formulas of which is Na2Fe2+3Fe3+2Si8O22(OH)2, is known as the most dangerous type of asbestos.

Apart from white, brown and blue asbestos, many other types of asbestos are also abundant in nature. Recording and classification of these asbestos types are still in progress.

The effects of asbestos on human health

Asbestos is an extremely carcinogenic substance. When it enters the body through respiration, it causes various diseases, especially cancer. Experts think that it is also possible to penetrate the skin. Some of the diseases caused by asbestos are severe diseases such as fluid collection between the lung membranes, calcification, pleural thickening and connective tissue formation in the lung tissue. It can also cause skin sores.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) regularly classifies carcinogens in the world into groups according to their properties every year. In the agency's list of carcinogens, asbestos is classified in group 1 with the definition of "definitive carcinogen".

In France, 4000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases and the number is increasing. Experts predict that more than 1960 people in the UK who were exposed to asbestos in the 70s and 120.000s will die of lung cancer in the near future. In countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, the production and use of asbestos was completely banned in the early 90s. The European Union has banned the production and use of asbestos in EU member states since 2005.

A young woman who got cancer due to asbestos from her father, who was a shipyard worker in the past, was entitled to compensation from the British Ministry of Defense in 2007. kazanIs Her.

Asbestos diseases and pathology


Asbestosis, which was first detected in shipyard workers, is the wounds on the lung membrane caused by the acid produced by the body trying to dissolve the asbestos fibers. It takes 10-20 years for this disease to manifest itself.


The most important disease caused by asbestos is pleural and peritoneal cancer, namely mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, which is detected in 1-2 of every million people per year in Western countries, is seen in at least 500 people per year in Turkey. The most common complaints of mesothelioma are pain and progressive shortness of breath. Although typical findings can be detected in lung x-ray and tomography, the standard method used for definitive diagnosis is pleural biopsy. Mesothelioma is a disease that does not respond well to drug or radiation therapy and leads to death in a short time when it is diagnosed in the early period and appropriate surgical intervention cannot be performed. It is relatively rare (3%) compared to lung cancer.


Bronchial carcinoma is the most common type of cancer in asbestosis. It can also cause laryngeal and digestive system cancers.

Pleural diseases

Pulmonary membrane (pleura) thickening, adhesions and effusionu

cor pulmonale

Caused by chronic interstitial fibrosis cor pulmonale


In chronic asbestosis, strong diffuse interstitial fibrosis thickening the alveolar septum, especially in the lower lobes of the lungs, fibrosis in the pleural leaves, fibrous plaques and areas of calcification are observed. Asbestos crystals in the lung are surrounded by an organic sheath containing the element iron. These structures are seen as translucent yellowish-brown bars in the middle. "asbestos (ferruginous) bodies” is called. Foreign body giant cells surrounding most of them are observed in microscopic examinations. Asbestos crystals can reach the pleura by moving within the lung and along the tissue spaces (active or passive).

Environmental damage of asbestos

Low levels of asbestos are found in the air we breathe and in drinking water, including natural sources. Studies show that people who are generally exposed to asbestos (non-occupational) have between ten thousand and one hundred thousand asbestos particles per gram in their pleura, which means that there are millions of particles in each person's lungs. Archived August 27, 2012 at the Wayback Machine.

The EPA has recommended a density limit of 5 million fibers per liter for long fibers (fibers exceeding 7 µm in length) in drinking water.

Since the asbestos fibers in the inhaled air are 3.0-20.0 µm in length and 0.01 µm in thickness, they cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Usage areas

Asbestos, which has more than 3.000 usage areas, has been widely used especially in the ship, aircraft, automobile industry, as a lubricant and sealing element in machine constructions, in the construction industry, and in heat and sound insulation. 

  • Natural asbestos: There are dozens of species spread in nature. In some areas, it can be found in trace amounts in water and air, but not at a level to show its carcinogenic effect (in other words, we can all have a few crystals in our lungs). Asbestos can be found extensively in the soil in residential areas.
  • Heat and sound insulation systems: Asbestos was used, especially on old ships, airplanes, buses, house roofs, firefighter clothes, curtains, ironing boards, oven gloves.
  • Homes: It was used in cement containing asbestos and in whitewash mixtures. Asbestos was used to solidify water and sewer pipes.
  • Brake pads: Asbestos was an important additive in the manufacture of brake pads for wheeled vehicles.

Presence and use of asbestos in Turkey

Asbestos is found in many parts of Anatolia and is used unconsciously by the public. Villagers use asbestos to spread on the roofs of their houses, to whitewash their houses, and as a powder substitute for young children. In the Amasya region and Kayılar nomads, babies are hall soil It is wrapped with heated asbestos known as[9] Asbestos fibers mixed with the air during these applications are intensively inhaled. Asbestos is very harmful to the workers who work in industrial areas where asbestos is used, as well as to the villagers who extract it from the soil and use it.

Diyarbakir (Cermik and Cungus), Eskisehir (Mihalicci), Kaymaz, Çifteler), Denizli (Tavas), Kütahya (Aslanapa, Gediz), Konya (Ereğli,Halkapinar), Karaman (Ayranci), Sivas (Yildizeli, Sarkisla), Kahramanmaras ( Afşin), Şanlıurfa (Siverek), Elazığ (Maden, Palu) districts are places where asbestos-related diseases are common. Those living in these regions can use the soil containing asbestos for construction works. 

The General Directorate of Environmental Management of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization of the Republic of Turkey banned the production, use, market supply of asbestos, which causes cancer, and the supply of asbestos-containing goods to the market, effective as of 31 December 2010.

Although the use of asbestos is prohibited, the sale of asbestos products still continues. For example, earthen pots,

Precautions to take

  • Asbestos-containing settlements should be identified, the use of asbestos-containing soil by the public should be prevented, and the settlements under serious threat should be relocated if necessary.
  • The public should be educated about the diseases caused by asbestos.
  • An archive should be created by retrospective research of asbestos-related diseases. Clinical studies should be initiated by examining in detail the diseases that may develop due to asbestos.
  • Families who continue to use asbestos-containing soil (inside-outside plaster material, whitewashing, pottery making, etc.) should be made conscious through educational activities, and the walls of houses whitewashed with asbestos should be repainted with plastic paint.
  • Those at risk for mesothelioma should be identified and closely monitored.
  • Physicians should be specially trained in the diseases caused by asbestos.
  • The presence of asbestos should be investigated in the buildings demolished within the scope of urban transformation, and the municipalities should issue a demolition license after the buildings are cleared of asbestos.
  • Inspections should be increased and the use of asbestos products should be prevented.

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