Asbestos is a mineral that has been used for many years in both commercial building construction and insulation due to its fire-resistant properties. It was once hailed as the “miracle mineral” but, because of potential health risks, it is now banned in most countries. Friable asbestos can be crumbled with your hands while non-friable asbestos cannot be crushed by hand. If you are unsure if there might be any friable or non-friable asbestos on your property, contact an environmental consultant to help you identify the material and dispose of it properly.
How do you identify asbestos? Friable and non-friable asbestos can be identified in different ways. Non-friable items such as floor tiles or wallboards should have a label indicating that they contain asbestos. If the item is not labeled, an environmental consultant might be able to perform tests on the material to determine if it contains any asbestos. If the material is friable, it might be safer to assume that any loose material around your home contains asbestos and contact an environmental consultant for proper disposal.
Common Items Containing Asbestos
Asbestos can commonly be found in the following items:
- Floor Tiles
- Wall Boards and Ceiling Tiles
- Packing Materials for Moving Furniture
- Roofing Shingles or Flooring Material on Older Homes, Pre 1975
- Siding Used Before 1981 (If it’s made of asphaltic material)
- Insulation in Some Attics and Walls Up to 1972
Asbestos can also be found in ceiling insulation, pipe wrap, and drywall joint compound. If you think a material may contain asbestos, it is important to call an environmental consultant before attempting to remove it yourself.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos can be dangerous because it contains tiny fibers that can be released into the air and inhaled. The danger increases when you cut, sand, or drill the material as it creates more particles that spread through your home if not contained properly.
Exposure can lead to serious health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other respiratory illnesses.
Note: If you suspect asbestos on your property or in an area of the home that is frequented by children or pets, it is important to call an environmental consultant for proper removal and disposal before attempting to remove the material yourself.
Safety Precautions When Handling Asbestos
When handling asbestos, safety precautions should be taken to avoid exposure to the dangerous fibers that can lead to serious health problems such as cancer and respiratory illness. Here are a few tips for handling these materials safely: Always wear protective gear when working with any type of asbestos material including dust masks, goggles, and gloves.
Only handle these materials if you are wearing the proper protection such as a respirator to avoid inhaling dangerous particles, and ensure that the area is properly ventilated when working with asbestos-containing material.
Today, asbestos is used in some homes as part of a mixture of cement or vinyl flooring materials. Newer homes might also contain asbestos because it was used in the construction process to strengthen and insulate buildings. Asbestos is considered safe when contained in such a manner.
Asbestos laws exist to protect the public from potential dangers associated with this material and ensure that it is properly handled during home renovations or construction projects where workers may come into contact with it. For example:
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) makes it mandatory for public and private schools to inspect buildings on a regular basis in order to identify asbestos-containing material.
The United States does not have an asbestos ban in place. Asbestos is still utilized in gaskets, friction products, roofing materials, fireproofing materials, and other quotidian commodities. In 2002, the Ban Asbestos in America Act was proposed; nevertheless, it was unsuccessful in Congress.
How do you dispose of asbestos? Friable and non-friable asbestos can be disposed of in different ways. If it is friable, you should wrap the material in a plastic bag before disposing of it at your local landfill or contact an environmental consultant for proper disposal. In some cases, if the item containing asbestos has become worn or damaged, it might be safer to cut the material into small pieces and seal them in a plastic bag before disposing of them.