Asbestos in Chemical Plants
Although asbestos was used as far back as ancient Greek and Rome, it was not until the 1950s that doctors and researchers proved a definite link between this material and the deadly cancer mesothelioma. However, people had to wait about another thirty years for the government to take note of this research and restrict its use. Frustratingly, though, many structures were build before this ban took place. Thus, many buildings, including chemical plants, still contain asbestos.
Asbestos is a member of the silicate mineral family, and it carries the silicates’ usual resistance to heat, flame, electricity, and chemicals. This is why asbestos became popular for chemical plants. Additionally, asbestos is very tough yet flexible, which allows it to be added to a number of different products. Thus, there are many areas in a chemical plant which can contain asbestos.
Asbestos was once a popular material for construction. It was added to concrete as well as vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, counter tops, and even used as wall insulation. To protect chemical plants from the chemicals themselves, asbestos was often used in the structures built before the asbestos ban took place. Additionally, products such as boilers, furnaces, pipes, and ovens may be coated with asbestos.
Next, many chemical plant workers must wear protective gear in order to prevent skin burns and other problems associated with exposure to powerful chemicals. Thus, asbestos was often added to protective clothing as well.
Sadly, even the most minimal exposure to asbestos can relate in health problems. This silicate mineral can flake off into microscopic pieces that can become lodged in the tissues of your body. As a carcinogen, asbestos is then able to mutate your cells so that they can turn into cancerous tumors.