Risks of Grey Asbestos

Written by sandra mireles
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Risks of Grey Asbestos
Asbestos was used in old buildings in the 1920s. (hospital building image by les sanders from Fotolia.com)

Banned in 1995, the second most prevalent form of asbestos, amosite has brown or grey, straight fibres (amphibole), made of iron magnesium silicate, according to SimplifyDIY. Grey asbestos is a mineral that was used extensively in building construction during the first half of the 20th century, it is highly resistant to heat and fire. Asbestos was used in everything from cars to ships.

Depending on the state of the asbestos it can become a health concern. Houses built before World War II are more likely to have asbestos in the building materials. Asbestos in tiny fibres were mixed with concrete making it impossible to know if a building is contaminated with the substance. The only way to find out if a building has asbestos is to analyse a sample of the building material.

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Risks of Asbestos

The only risk from asbestos is that of inhaling the airborne particles. Asbestos is made of tiny fibres. Asbestos is not harmful unless it begins to deteriorate and the fibres become airborne. However, if the substance is drilled or disturbed in any way the fibres get into the air. When these fibres are airborne and inhaled they get into the lungs where they cause lung disease. There is no cure for any lung disease caused by asbestos. These asbestos fibres remain in the lungs for a long time where they cause disease. Evidence of disease may not manifest for fifteen or more years.

Asbestos-Related Disease

Pleural plaque is a condition caused by exposure to asbestos in which the tissue around the lungs and the diaphragm begins to thicken and harden. There are usually no symptoms. Excess fluid may begin to build up in the space between the lungs and chest wall. This is known as pleural effusion. Asbestosis is a condition in which the tissue in the lungs become scarred making the patient have a greater risk of lung cancer. Smoking increases this risk. Lung cancer usually forms in the lung tissue or the cells lining the air passages. Mesothelioma is cancer of the pleura. Asbestos can also cause cancer in the lining of the abdominal cavity.


The outlook for people exposed to asbestos varies according to the amount of exposure, damage, and which disease they have. The affects of asbestos on your lungs cannot be reversed by any treatment. However, there are treatments to relieve the pain, slow the progress of the disease, and prevent complications according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). Quitting smoking and making other lifestyle changes can prevent complications and even lung cancer.

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