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Alternative Energies Phase Out Asbestos

There are many reasons for consumers to move from unsustainable fossil fuels to alternative and renewable energy sources like solar power and wind power. Renewable energy sources are sustainable. Fossil fuels will eventually run out. Also, research and scientists agree fossil fuels contribute to climate change. However, there is another important reason to make the switch to alternative energy. That reason is asbestos.

Commonly used in decades past, asbestos is a harmful mineral. Older homes contain asbestos, as do most power plants and oil refineries. Asbestos creates risk of serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, for those individuals who are exposed. However, the good news is the move toward alternative energy is leaving no room for asbestos. Reducing the risks of developing this harmful type of cancer.

Asbestos: A Brief History

Asbestos was used heavily in several industries. It can be mined from the ground and is made up of tiny fibers. Asbestos has unique properties that made it useful in industries ranging from construction to oil production. lightweight, strong, fire and heat resistant, as well as its resistance to most chemical reactions and electricity, made asbestos invaluable.

Almost all construction materials used prior to the late 1970s contained asbestos. These include insulation, roofing, flooring, adhesives, and more. Ships, power plants, oil refineries, and manufacturing plants used asbestos in building materials.

Unfortunately, research discovered inhaling or consuming tiny asbestos fiber could cause tissue damage and serious illness. Workers, homeowners, and residents living near facilities using asbestos were all at risk of inhaling these fibers. Inhalation increased the chance of contracting asbestosis or the deadly cancer called mesothelioma. The tiny fibers of asbestos often break free and become part of the dust that floats in the air and settles on surfaces. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers lodge in tissues. Once lodges, those fibers remain there rather than passing out of the body.  Over time the fibers damage cells, leading to these serious diseases.

Asbestos and Fossil Fuels

The use of fossil fuels often involves asbestos. A traditional power plant that burns fossil fuels is an example of an industrial facility that uses asbestos, risking exposure to workers and others individuals. Burning coal and other fossil fuels produces heat requiring insulation. Many modern power plants contain asbestos to prevent fire and keep heat from escaping. Workers may also use fireproof gear that contains asbestos.

Refineries are large-scale facilities that process the crude oil, turning it into usable oil, petroleum, and gas. These facilities, like power plants, require insulation to prevent heat loss and fire. Many of the refineries in the U.S. were built before asbestos was regulated. Asbestos insulates miles of pipes carrying oil in many refineries, as are the roofing materials, flooring, and other parts of these buildings. Workers that maintain and repair these facilities are often risk asbestos exposure.

Mining coal is a dangerous job in many ways. Workers are at risk of experiencing explosions or mine collapses. E These workers also face the dangers of asbestos exposure. Asbestos may be a part of the equipment used in coal mining, but it is also potentially a contaminant in mines. There are many natural deposits of asbestos throughout the world and these put miners at risk of exposing the mineral and accidentally inhaling the fibers.

It isn’t just the workers in the fossil fuel industry that are at risk of asbestos exposure. Residents living near these facilities are also at risk. Asbestos, when not properly contained, can contaminate the air, soil, and water near mines, refineries, and power plants. Asbestos fibers in the environment can put them at risk for developing mesothelioma and other illnesses.

As more of the world abandons fossil fuels to embrace wind, solar, geothermal, and other green energies, the less room there is for asbestos. There is no asbestos used when we construct alternative and renewable energy installations.

Green Homes with Alternative Energy Eliminate Asbestos

More people are turning to alternative energy sources and green materials for their homes. Replacing these common asbestos-containing materials, such as insulation and roofing materials makes homes safer for consumers.  Also, the growing trend of replacing common roofing materials with solar panels not only provides an alternative energy source, but also removes traces of asbestos in the process.

Insulation is also crucial in buildings, whether in homes or businesses. Insulation helps keep heat in or out, depending on the season, reducing the need for energy consumption on heating or cooling. In the past, insulation often contained asbestos. In recent years, homeowners began to replace asbestos insulation with more sustainable, less toxic materials that still insulate effectively. These new materials include polyurethane foams and cotton from recycled clothing.

Homeowners interested in using alternative energy sources like solar panels or geothermal heating, are often interested in removing toxic chemicals from the home. Asbestos abatement is an important part of this process. Professionals trained in removing and containing asbestos can help homeowners make their homes safer and less toxic.

Turning to alternative sources of energy is an important trend that will have many positive consequences. Eliminating asbestos from our lives is one of those important benefits. Thousands of people have died due to asbestos exposure, many in a painful death caused by mesothelioma. With more alternative energy and fewer coal mines, power plants, oil refineries, as well as a reduction in toxic building materials, we will be safer from the harm caused by asbestos.

Page Edited by Dave Foster

Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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