You have likely heard that asbestos, a mineral often found in old buildings, can harm human health. This is, unfortunately, true; asbestos exposure increases the risk of many health problems, including several types of cancer. Luckily, the presence of asbestos is manageable. This piece will explore asbestos and its health risks in further detail, describe how professionals like Aegis Environmental monitor asbestos, and explain what you should do if you suspect there is asbestos in your home.
If you suspect you have asbestos in your home or business, please call us for a detailed asbestos assessment, including asbestos testing and abatement information.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural, fibrous mineral whose unique properties, such as fiber strength and heat resistance, have prompted manufacturers to use it in numerous industrial products. Building parts like roof shingles and ceiling and floor tiles may contain asbestos. Homes built between 1940 and 1980 are more likely than homes built after 1980 to contain large amounts of asbestos. Asbestos in your home can lead to harmful exposure, which is why the protective steps described below are important.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Unfortunately, asbestos has been linked to numerous health problems, and greater exposure to asbestos usually means greater risk. First, asbestos is a carcinogen. Though it may take decades to appear, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, a rare, dangerous cancer impacting membranes around internal organs, including the lungs. Inhaling asbestos can also cause cancers of the lungs, pharynx, and ovaries.
The risks asbestos poses go beyond cancer. Over time, asbestos exposure can lead to asbestosis, lung scarring caused by asbestos inhalation. This scarring can eventually make it difficult to breathe. Additionally, asbestos can cause pleural disease (the pleura is the membrane separating the lungs and the chest cavity). This membrane can thicken or develop plaque, and fluid can build up around the lungs. All of this can obstruct one’s breathing.
Testing for Asbestos
Given that asbestos is dangerous and ubiquitous, especially in old housing, monitoring one’s home for asbestos is important. All of the following are good ways to accomplish this.
Home inspections: Asbestos contractors can inspect your home and collect samples of suspected dangerous material. This is generally only necessary for material in poor condition or disturbed soon – for example, in-home alterations. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends against receiving inspections from a firm that also repairs to avoid conflicts of interest.
Asbestos abatement: If a home renovation requires work with asbestos, you may need asbestos abatement (the controlled release of asbestos fibers). This link can help you determine whether a project requires it. Since abatement carries risk, contractors need to implement various safeguards to ensure that they are not put in harm’s way (and comply with regulations). For example, these professionals will likely monitor the air for dangerous levels of asbestos fibers.
Clearance sampling: After asbestos work, your home must receive clearance testing – a final inspection that guarantees the area’s safety for occupancy. This process includes air sampling and visual examination of surfaces that may contain asbestos. This visual sampling will likely focus on hard-to-reach crevices. When finding a contractor for clearance sampling, you should remember that your area may have unique regulations. For example, some states ban a company from removing asbestos and conducting clearance sampling on the same project.
Laboratory Testing: You can have high-risk material in your home sent to a laboratory, where specialists will test it for asbestos. Before finding a lab near you, you can collect a sample yourself. This link will tell you how. Pay close attention to the site’s safety tips. Asbestos is a dangerous material, and mishandling could put you or your family’s health at risk. One should approach DIY solutions like collecting samples yourself with extreme caution. If you are not positive that you can safely obtain samples yourself, you can always consult a specialist.
Dealing with Suspected Asbestos
So when should you get the material tested for asbestos? Luckily, the Mesothelioma Center offers a guide on how to approach material that may be asbestos. First, if the material is undamaged, the best option may be to avoid contact with it. If it is damaged or disturbed with future activities around your home, you must contact an asbestos professional. It would be best if you avoided the area until you get help. As the center notes, the untrained eye cannot easily identify asbestos, so err on the side of caution. The center notes that collecting a sample yourself is an option, but it suggests that seeking professional help from the start is likely safer.
Give Aegis Environmental A Call!
Asbestos is dangerous, but you can minimize your risk. By dealing with suspected asbestos properly, you can keep yourself and your family safe. If you suspect you have asbestos in your home or business, please call us for a detailed asbestos assessment, including asbestos testing and abatement information.