What Should I Know About Asbestos?
Updated: Jan 20
Whether you are a new homeowner looking to do some renovations, or a business owner demolishing an old property to make way for a new one, you have a lot of new responsibilities.
In particular, if you are doing work on older buildings, you are likely to come across asbestos in a number of places. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was commonly used in many industries, particularly insulation. The mineral has a flexible fibrous structure that is resistant to fire, heat, electricity, and corrosion which makes it extremely versatile.
The mineral exists in six different forms that are divided amongst two categories. The first category of asbestos is called amphibole, which is distinguished by its straight and jagged structure, and includes crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. The second category is called serpentine, for its curly appearance, only features chrysolite which is commonly referred to as “white asbestos.”
Asbestos as a material for products and manufacturing boasts a wide range of applications across several industries. However, asbestos was eventually found to be an incredibly hazardous material that can lead to many different significant health complications.
Because of its hazardous nature and the complexity of handling it safely, only certified experts of asbestos testing and removal are able to take on the task.
Asbestos History Usage
Asbestos has long been utilized for its durability and heat resistance. From what is known of its earliest uses is that even back in the time of ancient Greece and Rome, the material was used for cloth and ceremonial candle wicks.
More recently the material became widely used when large deposits were discovered in the late 19th across Canada and northern America. After thorough examination and experimentation the material was found to be fire retardant which broadened its application potential.
It was utilized across industries for many uses, even cat litter. But one of the primary uses was for insulation. Because asbestos is heat resistant it proved to be an efficient insulator for houses and other buildings.
Household asbestos is typically discovered in insulation, specifically vermiculite insulation. Vermiculite is described as having “pebble-like appearance and typically is a grayish-brown or silvery-gold color.” When exposed to heat the material expands and becomes lightweight. Unfortunately much of the vermiculite mined is contaminated with asbestos making the material highly dangerous to be exposed to.
Once the negative health impacts of asbestos exposure came to light, the fight to ban its use began. Back in the 1970s asbestos was banned from being used as a material for insulation. Later in 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a wider partial pan that applied to more products as a way of reducing asbesto exposure.
However, to this day asbestos is still allowed for use and application in certain limited capacities. Recently in December of 2020 the EPA evaluated some of the lingering uses of asbestos and found that the risk to workers was unreasonable.
Even though asbestos was widely used in the past, people today are still suffering the consequences. Anyone that is doing construction on properties from before the 1970s needs to contact asbestos removal services to keep their buildings safe.
The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
Being exposed to asbestos can lead to several significant health issues, many of which may take years to show any signs or symptoms. However, no amount of exposure is safe. When the site of asbestos is disturbed, fibers and particles can break off leading to expanded contamination which results in health problems..
The condition most closely linked to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. This rare form of cancer is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, at least 90% of cases can be attributed to exposure. This disease, along with other asbestos-related health complications, may not become recognizable for anywhere from 21-70 years.
Aside from mesothelioma, asbestos exposure can affect your DNA by causing cellular damage and complicating the cell division process which can contribute to other health issues. Lung cancer is another common form that can be caused by exposure.
People can also develop non-cancerous diseases like asbestosis and pleural disease which affect your lung function and health.
Because asbestos is such a hazardous material that can easily lead to several severe health conditions, it’s important to use asbestos removal services to make your property safe to live in.
Why Only Experts Can Handle Asbestos
Asbestos is extremely harmful to those exposed, as well as being terribly complicated to handle. Because tiny particles are so easily released into the air and can travel and contaminate other areas, it takes the knowledge and skill of an expert to tackle the removal process.
The material isn’t something that just anyone can attempt to remove. Only certified professionals employed by companies that work within federal and local regulations are permitted to safely remove sources of asbestos and make properties safe to be in.
Asbestos abatement services are essential for anyone renovating, demolishing, or adding new construction to buildings from before the 1970s as they are the most likely to have asbestos present.
To best protect your family, asbestos remediation may be needed to make your property safe. The process is technical and dangerous, requiring professionals of asbestos testing and removal to utilize their years of experience and training to ensure all traces of the contamination are eradicated. Check out our lead level testing page for more information on this alternative form of safety protection measures for your home.
Call the Asbestos Experts at Air Methods Environmental
If you suspect asbestos is present in your home and you have been exposed, call a medical professional right away to get help. Additionally, contact Air Methods Environmental to schedule an asbestos remediation. We also provide mold and lead remediation services. Contact us today at (541) 668 - 1848 or fill out the form here.