Learn About the Dangers Asbestos Poses to You and Your Family
Asbestos — you've likely heard the term used but might not know how the product is used or how dangerous it might be. This guide will discuss what asbestos is, its dangers, how to spot it, and how to remove it from your home.
Asbestos is a mineral that naturally occurs in soil and rocks. Asbestos offers a few benefits, such as chemical and heat resistance, strength, and fireproofing. Because of those benefits, asbestos was a common additive to various products. Asbestos was added to insulation, pipes, bricks, and fireplace cement.
Asbestos was used extensively in home construction from the early 1940s to the 1970s before mainly getting phased out during the 1980s.
In homes built before 1975, asbestos is commonly found as thermal insulation on basement boilers, ductwork, and pipes. Canada banned asbestos in 2019 due to the many health problems that exposure to asbestos causes.
What Kinds of Asbestos Are There?
You can find three different variations of asbestos: white, blue, and brown.
Blue, or crocidolite, asbestos is the most hazardous type of asbestos. It was typically used in spray-on coatings, cement products, and pipe insulation. The fibres are very thin and blue.
Amosite or brown, asbestos is the second most frequently used type. Brown asbestos carries a greater chance of cancer than other kinds of asbestos. This type of asbestos was used commonly in insulation boards, pipe insulation, and thermal insulation products.
White or chrysotile asbestos can be found in floors, roofs, ceilings, and walls. Many buildings were once constructed with materials that had white asbestos in them. Chrysotile asbestos is white and has curly fibres.
What Are the Dangers of Asbestos?
Breathing in asbestos fibres can result in cancer and other diseases.
When someone breathes in asbestos fibres, the fibres can cause scarring in their lungs. Carbon dioxide and oxygen can't pass easily in and out of the lungs, making breathing difficult.
Asbestosis usually arises in those who've been exposed to high levels of asbestos over long periods of time. Many years might pass before a person experiences symptoms.
- Pleural Disease
A non-cancerous condition that affects the lungs, pleural disease changes the membranes in your chest cavity and lungs. The membrane might get thicker throughout the area or in isolated locations. Fluid might also build up around the affected person's lungs.
Not everyone who has the pleural disease will have difficulty breathing. Some might experience decreased lung function.
- Lung Cancer
A person gets diagnosed with lung cancer when a malignant tumour grows in their lungs, blocking their air passages. Smoking, combined with asbestos inhalation, can significantly increase a person's chance of getting lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer in the membrane covering the chest cavity and lungs. Cancer can also appear in the membrane that lines your abdominal cavity or other organs. Some people might not experience signs of mesothelioma until 30-40 years after they've been exposed to asbestos.
How to Spot Asbestos
If your home was built before 1975, there are a few things you should keep an eye out for when you work on your home. Some red flags might include cracked siding, crumbling drywall, or broken or discoloured floor tiles. You'll also want to keep an eye out for damaged shingles, fraying pipe insulation, old cement roofing, and brittle coatings or ceiling tiles.
Remember that just because you find any of the above things in your home doesn't automatically mean you have asbestos. The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to have it tested.
When left undisturbed, asbestos doesn't pose a threat to homeowners. However, if you're doing any home repairs or have duct cleaning done, all asbestos must be professionally sealed or removed before the work gets started. You want to remove the asbestos, so the material doesn't get disturbed, resulting in particles permeating the air.
There aren't any health risks if the materials containing asbestos are sealed underneath floorboards or behind walls. Asbestos also doesn't pose a risk if it's left undisturbed, isolated in an attic or basement, or tightly bound in materials that are in good condition.
How Does Asbestos Removal Work?
Asbestos repair typically involves covering or sealing the asbestos material. During sealing, a sealant gets applied to the material that binds the fibres together or coats the material so the fibres can't get released. Furnace, boiler, and pipe insulation can get repaired in this manner.
Covering the asbestos involves putting a protective jacket or wrapping around the material that has asbestos. Wrapping prevents the fibres from getting released.
Only a professional company trained in the process should handle these repairs. Trying to do the repairs yourself isn't recommended. Mishandling asbestos can create more problems.
If you spot asbestos or fear it might be present in your home, you should hire a qualified asbestos removal specialist to remove it before starting on your project. Avoid handling the asbestos yourself. You don't want to increase your and your family's health risks.
Check with your territorial and provincial workplace safety authorities to determine what certifications and qualifications are needed in your area.
Who Can Help Me With Asbestos Testing and Removal?
While the experts at Advanced Air Quality cannot assist with the testing and removing asbestos, we can recommend some qualified companies in the Ottaway area.
Once the asbestos has been properly handled, we can help you clean your air ducts.
Partner With Advanced Air Quality for Air Duct Cleaning
Educating yourself on asbestos is important, especially if you own an older home. While the presence of asbestos isn't always a cause for concern, it's essential that you know when to contact the professionals for intervention.
The air duct cleaning experts at Advanced Air Quality are here to ensure you and your family breathe fresh air. Reach out to us today to learn more about our air duct cleaning services.