Asbestos belongs to a family of fibrous minerals that are found in underground deposits, this mineral fiber is used in the insulation of houses, in fire protection (in safety clothing), water tanks, floors, tiles, car brake components, machine coatings and some types of material plastic.
The wide use of asbestos is explained by its properties: fire and corrosion resistance, light weight and low production cost.
Inhaling asbestos is considered extremely harmful to health, causing several types of lung diseases. Asbestos fibers are believed to be responsible for the increased risk of lung cancer in workers who are exposed daily to this substance, such as: miners, construction workers, professionals who need to handle asbestos and mechanics who work with brakes. The worst thing is that cancer only occurs after long periods of exposure, meaning symptoms can take up to 50 years to appear.
The dangerousness of asbestos is explained by its action in the body, once inside the human body, the microscopic fibers of the asbestos dust are never eliminated. These fibers stimulate cell mutations that are the origin of tumors. Some doctors claim that the risk arises only when the material is broken, cracked or damaged, and its dust is released into the environment. Therefore, drinking water from an asbestos water tank is not dangerous.
However, asbestos has already been banned in the United States and almost the entire European Union. In Brazil, its use is still allowed, but the National Congress has a project for it to be progressively reduced and completely abolished.
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By Líria Alves
Graduated in Chemistry
Brazil School Team
Curiosities - Brazil School
Would you like to reference this text in a school or academic work? Look:
SOUZA, Líria Alves de. "Is asbestos used in water tanks carcinogenic?"; Brazil School. Available in: https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/curiosidades/o-amianto-usado-caixas-dagua-cancerigeno.htm. Accessed on June 27, 2021.