Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that led to many innovations through the 19th and 20th centuries. As a durable, resistant material, Georgia mines harvested asbestos and industries used it in a variety of ways from construction to textiles.
Nowadays, medical science recognizes asbestos for its toxic effect on humans and the long-term risks associated with regular exposure. Understanding where asbestos was, where it is and how people might avoid it are important points to understand when investigating it and related diseases.
As Asbestos.com details, the uses of asbestos proved to span across multiple markets. It was a fire-proof way of insulating houses and a lightweight way to reinforce concrete. Up to the 1970s and 1980s, people could find asbestos in their hairdryers, makeup and other appliances.
Since legislation restricted the use of asbestos in the 1980s, it is much harder to find. However, it is not outright banned in the US. Many brake pads and gaskets still use asbestos and refineries still important asbestos diaphragms for chloralkali processes.
As WebMD notes, everyone has been around asbestos at some point. It is in the air, water and soil. However, these low levels are unlikely to make anyone sick. Handling products old and new that have asbestos in them is another case. DIY renovations on old houses or car repairs with aftermarket brake pads risk concentrated exposures to asbestos.
Once exposed, it may take up to 20 years for a disease like mesothelioma to manifest. People at risk of asbestos exposure in the past or present have options to consider when examining their health and their future.