Asbestos disposal is important to preventing cases of malignant mesothelioma. A review by an international team of researchers outlines three ways that asbestos can be managed safely.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found around the world. It was very popular as a manufacturing material because it is impossible to set on fire or corrode, and it can be woven into other materials. Since it is found naturally in the ground, it is also a cheap material.
Despite these attractive qualities, asbestos is dangerous because it is toxic and causes cancer. It is classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Asbestos Containment and Disposal
Malignant mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. It is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the body’s internal organs. It takes around 40 years for symptoms to appear after exposure to asbestos, and the prognosis is usually poor.
Even though asbestos is toxic, it used to be used in building and manufacturing materials and can still be found in some places around the world. It is important to safely manage asbestos in these places, so it doesn’t make anyone sick.
There are three ways to manage asbestos safely: containment (keeping it locked up), stabilization (making it less likely to spread), and destruction (getting rid of it completely).
Most asbestos can be safely contained so that it doesn’t make people sick. If there is a chance the asbestos could be disturbed, then it might be better to stabilize it. For example, if a work crew comes across old walls made with asbestos sheeting, they could cover the walls with plywood. This would protect the crew from asbestos exposure without disturbing the toxic material.
Asbestos can also be destroyed using special methods like plasma and microwaves. This is a good option because the treated materials can be reused or safely thrown away. Other methods like bioremediation and chemical treatments can also make the asbestos safe.
Bolan S, Kempton L, McCarthy T, et al. Sustainable management of hazardous asbestos-containing materials: Containment, stabilization and inertization [published online ahead of print, 2023 Apr 14]. Sci Total Environ. 2023;881:163456. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.163456. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969723020752?via%3Dihub