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Tell-Tale Signs Of Household Asbestos

Asbestos is a prevalent naturally occurring mineral that is used in building construction. This mineral is available in six colours and has flexible fibres that protect buildings against fire, heat, and damage. In the 1980s, almost all the buildings in Australia had asbestos as the primary construction material. The reason behind its usage was durability and low prices.

However, you may not know that asbestos exposures cause severe health risks. That's the primary reason behind the ban on its usage in building construction. Although the government implemented a complete ban on asbestos in 2003, a few houses still contain asbestos. If you are worried that your home has asbestos, here's how to find it.

Signs Of Asbestos In Your Home

There's no simple physical test for asbestos detection. You can't tell if your building has asbestos or not by looking at it. However, you can go for a laboratory test. Here are a few signs of asbestos in the home that can help with easy identification.

Old homes or commercial buildings

All buildings built in the early or late 90s have asbestos as their primary construction material. Asbestos was used in boilers, ducts, pipes, fireplaces, etc. It was also used in multiple building components like ceiling tiles, floor tiles, sidings, and roof shingles. So, if your home was built in this era, asbestos may be around you. Even if the house has undergone a home renovation, some elements of asbestos may still exist somewhere.

Cement ceiling or sheets

In old houses, cement sheets and ceilings were trendy. You can easily find asbestos around the sheet in areas like light bases, vent covers, and cover traps. Asbestos was used to ensure that the ceilings and sheets easily withstand severe weather. You can get the help of an asbestos abatement company to find out whether your cement sheets have asbestos or not.

Corrugated roofing

Corrugated roofing was the most in-demand product from the mid-90s to late 90s. It covered outer surfaces like the garage or garden from rain and other weather conditions.

This corrugated roofing also contains asbestos in the form of chrysotile, known as white asbestos. If you have any of this old corrugated roofing, you are prone to several health risks.

Vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is usually used in washrooms and kitchens to make the space slip-resistant. However, these continuous flexible sheets combined with millboard also contain asbestos. If your dwelling was built between the 1950s and 1980s, there are high chances that you'll have vinyl flooring. You can contact any asbestos removal or abatement company to assist you in identifying asbestos.

Cement or concrete water tanks

In the past, there were more concrete water tanks than plastic ones. But these cement tanks contained 10 to 20 per cent asbestos. This asbestos, when mixed in water, can cause critical health issues. That's why you should get your cement tank replaced or checked for any asbestos present as soon as possible.

Here are a few other things that may possess asbestos:

  • Pipeline wrap
  • Cement flat sheet
  • Clothing
  • Vinyl floor tile
  • Millboard
  • Roof coatings
  • Clutch facings

Types Of Asbestos

There are currently six known types of asbestos. Let's look at all these types and their usage.

Chrysotile asbestos

Chrysotile, typically referred to as white asbestos, is the most used and known type of asbestos and asbestos product. The USA and Canada were the primary producers of this asbestos back in the 90s. You can still find products containing chrysotile in these countries.

However, this asbestos is very toxic and contains other trace elements that enhance its overall toxicity. Construction materials and automotive products sometimes contain this asbestos.

Amosite asbestos

Amosite asbestos, also known as brown asbestos, is mainly manufactured and exported by the US. Usually, this asbestos is called grunerite and is mined in South Africa. Exposure to this Asbestos can cause cancer in people. Hence, its usage is limited now. Cement sheets, vinyl tiles, and fire protection are some instances where amosite asbestos is used.

Anthophyllite asbestos

This form of asbestos is one of the rarest and most unique types. It is not commonly used in any product function, and its commercial usage is minimal. Finland is the starting miner of this asbestos. However, other small countries also have a small quantity of anthophyllite asbestos.

Crocidolite asbestos

There's no other type of asbestos as dangerous as Crocidolite asbestos. The fibres used in it are fragile and quickly make their way to your lungs. Hence, you can get severe lung and respiratory issues. Ceiling tiles and cement sheets are the top products containing crocidolite asbestos.

How To Check For Asbestos And Get It Removed

If you find that any area of your home has asbestos, check it regularly or at specific intervals. If you suspect any possible damage, don't go towards that area and limit the overall interaction with that area. Don't try to repair it yourself and call for professional help.

Inspection

First, contact an asbestos removal company to check the infected area properly. The inspection process involves visually checking the area's condition and collecting samples. If there's any trace of asbestos, the inspecting team or inspector will provide you with a written assessment detailing the location of asbestos presence.

They'll also give specific directions related to its removal and prevention. Once you've got the report, they can handle the asbestos removal. You can again ask the inspector to check whether the asbestos has been removed successfully or not.

Removal

Before starting the asbestos removal process, ensure the contractor has given you a written surety. The written document should state that they must follow all state laws. Let's look at some tips to help you during the asbestos removal process.

  • Homeowners should ensure that the asbestos isn't just thrown out anywhere. Instead, it should be disposed of in a landfill designed to receive different kinds of asbestos.
  • Ensure only a professional contractor is dealing with your home asbestos removal and replacement. For this purpose, you can ask the contractor to show the previous list of projects worked on.
  • You should also consult the local air pollution board to check whether or not the abatement company has committed any environmental violations.
  • Also, check that all the workers wear proper equipment like respirators, gloves, etc. Asbestos is a toxic material, and touching it without equipment can result in health issues.
  • Before starting any removal work, the contractor should also have all the compensation policies and state liabilities and inform the concerned authorities.
  • In the end, the inspector should visit the damaged area again to ensure that no asbestos fibre has escaped from the whole asbestos removal process.

Tips To Repair Asbestos

Asbestos can be repaired if its damage is minor and not significant. However, you shouldn't touch the asbestos directly, even if the repair is minor. There are two steps in treating asbestos: covering or sealing.

Sealing

In this, the asbestos is tightly encapsulated with the help of a sealant. This ensures that no fibres can get released into the atmosphere. Typically, this sealing method can seal or repair asbestos pipes, furnaces, and boilers.

Covering

Covering is usually the process of wrapping a cover or jacket around the asbestos material to prevent any further fibre loss or escape. This process is hazardous; that's why you shouldn't do it on your own. Instead, hire an asbestos removal company for proper repairs.

Repairing is less costly and can prevent your area from any further damage. But if the sealing or covering gets damaged, the replacing or removal costs will be doubled.

Health Risks Caused By Asbestos

Asbestos isn't harmful when it's intact and packed. However, if any fibres get released into the atmosphere, the tiny particles of the fibre move to our lungs and cause severe health issues. Here are a few common diseases that are caused by asbestos:

Mesothelioma

When the asbestos fibre attacks the various membranes and cavities, it results in tumour formation at your body's testes, stomach, and heart. These diseases are medically termed testicular mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma.

The CDC report of 2017 showed that even after strict regulations against asbestos usage and its ban, more than 45000 people died from asbestos exposure. This disease continues to spread, and more than 3000 people fall victim to this disease every year.

A person who is diagnosed with mesothelioma can file a class action lawsuit (mesothelioma class-action) against companies who manufactured or are responsible for exposing them to asbestos.

Lung cancer

Although asbestos is not entirely responsible for lung cancer, it remains one of the deadliest diseases caused by asbestos fibres. The abnormal cell growth, i.e., tumours, starts multiplying in the lungs and lymph nodes, making it difficult for the patient to breathe.

Around one million people lost their lives to lung cancer induced by asbestos. Smokers possess small cancerous cells, and these same cells are found inside the body of a person infected with asbestos spores.

Ovary cancer

Another disease caused by asbestos exposure is ovary cancer. The fibres enter the ovaries or testes and form cancer cells there. You may not know, but asbestos fibres can readily travel through the lymph and bloodstream to your ovaries, causing cancer.

Asbestos removal company workers are most prone to getting this cancer than any other person. They are asked to use proper equipment while removing or replacing asbestos anywhere.

Get Your Home Checked For Asbestos

If you think that your house has any of the components mentioned above, such as cement sheets or vinyl flooring from before the 90s, there are high chances that asbestos is present in your home. It's challenging to detect asbestos visually.

However, you can call any professional asbestos inspector to check your home thoroughly. If asbestos is detected, the removal company can replace or remove it. This can save you from multiple health risks and ensure asbestos safety.

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