Asbestos is something that many of us have probably heard about- how it is used in building materials in older homes, how it is harmful to your health, maybe even common materials that contain asbestos like popcorn ceilings and pipe insulation. Enviro wants to expand on some of that information so that you are made aware of potential health affects from asbestos exposure and how you can prevent it.
What It Is:
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was commonly used in building and painting materials between 1930-1977. Asbestos fibers were commonly added to many building materials to add strength, fire resistance and insulation.
Asbestos exposure can elevate risk of lung cancer. Usually these cases are results of significant exposure, and limited exposure does not usually lead to negative health symptoms. Risk for asbestos caused illnesses are significantly increased if subject is also a tobacco user, and most symptoms surface many years after initial exposure.
Asbestos in building materials does not normally pose as a health threat. The asbestos fibers are contained within the material and not at risk of being inhaled. Asbestos becomes a health hazard when materials containing asbestos are broken and torn apart. This can occur from deterioration over time, demolition, and accidental damage.
Places Asbestos Might Be Found in Your Home:
While used in many different building materials, below is a list of items that most often present an asbestos issue:
–Asbestos tiling Usually 9×9 or 12×12 tiles used for flooring. Often will be found after removing other flooring such as linoleum or carpet that has been laid over the top.
–Siding Asbestos was commonly used in siding put on houses from 1930-1950.
–Popcorn ceilings One of the most common sources of asbestos, popcorn ceilings in homes built before 1977 often contain the hazardous fibers. Popcorn ceilings are commonly a problem with asbestos because of their tendency to crumble when touched or worked on.
–Insulation around water pipes Piping sometimes appears to be encased in a cement like material. This material is used as insulation and a fire retardant and contains asbestos fibers.
–Old Insulation Some insulation installed during this time period contains asbestos fibers. Asbestos insulation is especially hazardous because it can be inhaled in its normally installed condition.
What to Do if You Suspect Asbestos to Be In Your Home:
-Do not disturb it. If it is intact (with exception of loose insulation), it likely will not have any risk of producing airborne fibers.
-Have it tested. Have someone familiar with asbestos sampling collect a sample and have it analyzed by an accredited lab. Enviro is available to collect these samples and offer consultation upon your request.
More information on asbestos can be found @ http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos