Frequently asked questions about asbestos
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What is asbestos?
Asbestos is term used to describe a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals, which have excellent heat resistance, insulating properties, and tensile strength, but can cause serious respiratory issues when inhaled. Given the health consequences from asbestos exposure, most governments regulate the mining, use, remediation, and disposal of asbestos.
Why is/was asbestos used?
Asbestos use dates thousands of years and accelerated in the industrial revolution due to its resistance to fire, heat, and corrosion, as well as its high-tensile strength and low electrical conductivity. For decades, asbestos was thought of as a miracle building material and its use greatly reduced the number of building fires.
What types of products contain asbestos?
Asbestos fibers have been used to create thousands of industrial, commercial, and consumer products–particularly items exposed to high heat or used in insulating. Back in the 1950s, even some baby blankets were made from asbestos! However, its use declined rapidly in the 1970s as the public became more aware of the negative health impacts associated with asbestos. In the US, asbestos is now mostly found in older buildings used as insulation, including one type of blown-in attic insulation, and is incorporated into many different building products, including tile and vinyl flooring, flooring adhesive, drywall and joint compounds, fire-resistant coatings, bricks and fireplace cement, and boiler gaskets.
When is asbestos exposure dangerous?
Prolonged inhalation of disturbed asbestos fibers causes serious illness, including death. Asbestos exposure is known to cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure increases the likelihood of contracting lung cancer, especially for smokers.
When did the public become aware of the danger of asbestos?
During the 1900s, the detrimental impacts of asbestos inhalation gained increased public awareness, and significant regulation was enacted in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, its use is drastically diminished and television advertisements by plaintiff lawyers have informed much of the public about its dangers.
Has asbestos been banned in the US and other countries?
Asbestos has been banned in many countries, but there is not a total asbestos ban in the US. However, its use is severely restricted and the American Institute of Architecture’s (AIA) standard building specification prohibits the use of asbestos. Still some products containing asbestos from other countries such as China and Russia are sometimes found in US stores.
Are products with asbestos always dangerous?
No, not always. Asbestos that is properly sealed and undisturbed is generally not a problem. For instance, old square 9″x9″ floor tiles likely contain asbestos, yet if they are well-maintained and sealed, it is not a health problem. However, when such materials become disturbed or frayed, whether due to renovation activities or their own decline, the microscopic fibers can be suspended in the air for many days.
Is asbestos a problem when renovating?
Renovation and demolition are two of the activities that are most likely to release asbestos fibers from building materials. When renovating a home or business where asbestos may exist (generally in structures built before the 1980s), it is wise to make sure asbestos is not present by having an inspector assess potential risks. Improperly disturbing asbestos exposes you, others and the environment to its harmful effects.
EPA-certified professionals use specialized containment and ventilation systems during asbestos abatement. Such asbestos removal professionals know how to safely remove or encapsulate asbestos without exposing others to its dangerous fibers.
How do you know if asbestos is present? What should you look for in a vendor?
The only way to know for sure is to bring in a qualified asbestos inspector who can provide testing and a professional opinion as to how to handle any asbestos. Be sure to check that your vendor uses EPA-certified staff who have the experience to do the job correctly. There are several steps involved in proper asbestos remediation.
For safety and peace of mind, call ACM Removal for professional asbestos removal.
Ensure your home and business are safe for you, your family, your employees and your customers. For more information, a complimentary proposal and to schedule services, contact us now at 316.684.1800.