Asbestos is deadly, as the material can impact one’s health over time. In the past, these fibres were used in building materials to strengthen them or to supply fire resistance and insulation. From the research that has been performed on asbestos, scientists know that breathing the fibres over time can lead to increased risks of respiratory illnesses.
Mesothelioma and Asbestosis
For example, the risk of mesothelioma (which is a cancer that affects the lining of the abdominal cavity and chest) and asbestosis (which is a condition that leads to scarring of the lungs) increases in accordance with the number of asbestos fibres inhaled. The risk of getting lung cancer also increases if you smoke. People who suffer from asbestosis typically have been exposed to high levels of the material over a period of years. Symptoms of the aforementioned diseases generally do not surface until about two or three decades after the initial exposure.
Most people who are exposed to asbestos in small amounts generally do not develop health issues. However, if the asbestos is disturbed, the material may release fibres that can be inhaled. The fibres can, in turn, remain for a long duration, which increases the risk of a respiratory disease. Asbestos materials that crumble readily or that have been sanded, scraped, or sawed into powder form are more likely to present a hazard.
Where Asbestos Fibres Are Found
When asbestos removal is recommended, the fibres are often found in the following constructions:
- Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts, all which have been insulated with an asbestos tape or blanket. These particular items may release asbestos fibres if they are removed improperly, or are repaired or damaged.
- Floor tiles in the form of vinyl asbestos, rubber, or asphalt can release asbestos fibres if they are sanded or scraped when they are removed.
- Cement sheets, paper, and millboard that are used as insulation around wood burning stoves or furnaces can release fibres if they are drilled, sawn, or sanded.
- Door gaskets in wood stoves, coal stoves, or furnaces can cause asbestos fibres to be released during use.
- Soundproofing materials that have been sprayed on ceilings or walls can release asbestos fibres if they are scraped, drilled, or sanded. Crumbly, loose, or water-damaged soundproofing fabrics release asbestos fibres as well.
- Asbestos cement roofing, siding, and shingles will not release asbestos unless they are cut or sawed.
- Artificial embers or ashes, sold for usage in gas-fired fireplaces, contain asbestos as do such other products as stove-top pads, ironing board covers, fireproof gloves, and some hairdryers.
- Auto products also contain asbestos fibres, such as brake pads and linings, gaskets, and clutch facings.
What to Do if You Find Asbestos
If you find asbestos in your business or residence, you need to keep any activities to a minimum where the asbestos is located. You also want to take every precaution to prevent damage to the asbestos. Have the handling and removal of asbestos done by people who are trained and highly qualified in managing asbestos removals. Any sampling or minor repair should be facilitated by an asbestos professional. Major repairs should only be done by a professional asbestos removal company as well. Even minor repairs should be undertaken by professionals, as there is always some type of risk of exposure whenever the substance is managed or handled.