Asbestos is a natural mixture of silicate minerals, with long, thin fibrous crystals. It is used for its resistance to fire or heat, desirable physical properties. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistant properties, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. The problem comes when asbestos are damaged or disturbed by remodeling or demolition activities, because its fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a type of malignant neoplasm) and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis).
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