Asbestos dust asphyxiation
Damage, symptoms and biology
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral for which there are numerous applications. Its fire resistance, tensile strength and reliability make it an excellent material for a wide range of uses, from automobile and aircraft brake linings to water pipes and concrete structures. Since the ore contains only 2 to 5% asbestos fibres, the processing plant has to crush tonnes of rocks to extract enough fibre. The crushing and sifting of the ore produce a great deal of dust, part of which is released to the atmosphere. This dust ends up falling and becomes deposited on the surface of leaves and needles. It obstructs the stomata (pores involved in gas exchange) and asphyxiates the leaves. If a large amount of suspended dust goes into the atmosphere, exposed trees will suffer slowed growth and may die.
Nowadays, asbestos extraction is limited to chrysolite fibres, which release less dust than the amphiboles that were previously mined.
Canadian Forest Service Publications
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