What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name used for a category of mineral fiber materials. It was widely used in construction due to its strength, durability and exceptional fire resistance. It was added to a wide variety of products, like roofing, insulation, ceiling tiles and more. This makes it often difficult to identify, as it is mixed with other substances. The common way to test for asbestos is to call professionals or send samples of construction substances from various parts of the house to testing. Such testing can be conducted in a properly accredited asbestos laboratory.
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Asbestos Risks and Dangers
Breathing certain levels of asbestos fibers (as happens when they dislodge from roofing, insulation etc. and drift through the air) can significantly increase the risk of certain types of lung disease and cancer.
Sources of Asbestos in a Home
Today, few products that are used in construction contain asbestos anymore, and those that do are heavily regulated. Unfortunately, before the mid-seventies, before the asbestos was identified as a hazardous cancerogen, many building materials used in the home contained asbestos. Your home may have asbestos in any of those areas and parts, releasing fibers into the air:
- Asbestos blankets used to wrap steam pipes, furnace ducts and boilers.
- Cement sheet, millboard and paper used to insulate furnaces.
- Soundproofing or material sprayed on walls and ceilings.
- Joint compounds for walls, patching for ceilings.
- Some textures, textured paints, especially exterior paint.
- Door gaskets used in furnaces or wood and coal stoves.
- Gas fireplaces using artificial ashes and embers.
- Cement roofing, tiles/shingles and siding.
- Vermiculite attic and wall insulation.
- Vinyl, asphalt or rubber floor tiles.
- Fireproof gloves and stove top pads.
If asbestos fibers are safely enclosed within a product, there is little danger of health risks. The danger becomes real if and when asbestos fibers are disturbed, released into the air, and inhaled. Any of those materials – their sanding, drilling, perforation or removal can cause the release of asbestos fibers into the air where they will be inhaled by inhabitants or guests.
Identifying Asbestos in the Home
Unfortunately, you cannot identify asbestos containing materials simply by looking at them. The only way you can do this, is by taking a sample of the material and having it tested by a specially equipped and accredited asbestos laboratory. If you suspect that your home might contain asbestos, the best approach is to take no chances and treat the material as if it does contain asbestos. Isolate it, have it examined as soon as possible and removed if possible and necessary.
Depending on the specific part of the house where asbestos was found (which affects the likelihood of disturbing the asbestos) it may sometimes be best to stay away and do nothing. Properly enclosed asbestos with no risk of fibers escaping into the air should simply be left alone. Check the place regularly, inspecting for wear or damage.
If the asbestos material is damaged, or you are considering a renovations project that involves the area containing asbestos, then we strongly recommend you to contact a professional asbestos removal company. If in any doubt, always contact a professional, and under no circumstances try to remove it yourself.
For more information don’t hesitate to contact ANA Contracting and we will help you in every way we can!