February 20, 2015 at 9:01 AM
WHAT IS ASBESTOS?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be postively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of Asbestos fibers. In the past, Asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
HOW CAN ASBESTOS AFFECT MY HEALTH?
From studies of people who were exposed to Asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of Asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the form of Mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity and Asbestosis in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.
If disturbed, Asbestos material may release Asbestos fibers which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that is in a friable state - that is, if it would crumble easily if handled, or if it has been sawed, scraped or sanded into a powder is more likely to be a health hazard.
WHERE WOULD I FIND ASBESTOS AND WHEN CAN IT BE A PROBLEM
Until 1970's many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained Asbestos.
- steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired or removed improperly.
- resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt and rubber) the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives used for installing floor tiles. Sanding tiles can release fibers and so can scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.
- cement sheet, millboard and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood burning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may relase asbestos fibers and so may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling or sawing insulation.
- door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
- soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly or water damaged material may release fibers and so will sanding, drilling or scraping the material.
- patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings and textured paints. Sanding, scraping or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos fibers.
- Asbestos cement roofing, shingles, siding and fencing. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless damaged, sawed, drilled or cut.
- Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces and other older household products such as fireproof gloves, stove top pads, ironing board covers and certain hairdryers
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT ASBESTOS IN THE HOME?
Leave alone any Asbestos material that is in good condition. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. If you are going to make changes to your home that might disturb it, removal by a Specialist is required.
HOW TO IDENTIFY MATERIALS THAT CONTAIN ASBESTOS
You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analysed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for and because there may be an increased health risk if its fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous that leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended.