Where does asbestos come from?
Asbestos is a naturally substance from metamorphic rocks and deposits of it can be found in most countries in the world. It is still mined today in the former Soviet Union, Canada (white asbestos), South Africa (brown asbestos), and Australia (blue asbestos). Many countries, including the United States, have banned asbestos mining due to the extreme hazards.
How is it processed?
Asbestos is mined usually using the opencast method. The raw material is coarse and fibrous, looking very much like old wood. This material is processed into fluffy fibers. These fibers are graded to determine its selling price. All six kinds of asbestos, and chrysolite, are classed as cancer causing agents or carcinogens. Actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, termolite are rigid, strong and have thick fibers, which can easily penetrate the body tissues, leading to scarring, tumors or cancer. The only other kind, chrysolite, is made of fibers that can be easily spun and woven into cloth, making it the most desired and the most expensive. Only a small percentage, less than 10% of all chrysolite fibers are long enough to spin and weave into cloth.
How is asbestos shipped, delivered and sold?
Due to its hazardous nature, strict guidelines must be followed for safe shipping. All personnel handling the material should wear personal protective gear including coveralls, eye protection, respirators, gloves and shoe covers and undergo decontamination after handling the material. Their gear needs to be inspected daily and if found damaged, should be disposed of properly. If the damage occurs within or immediately following the containment area, the incident must be reported immediately.
The asbestos should be in airtight containers and clearly marked as being hazardous. On the manifest, the item should be clearly labeled as asbestos so that the shipping workers handle it correctly.