Asbestos can be found in thousands of buildings worldwide, particularly in factories, older homes, and commercial properties. Many cancer deaths occurring today are a legacy of past occupational exposure to asbestos. This material is responsible for over 85 percent of all mesothelioma cases. It’s also one of the main contributing factors to asbestosis, lung cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease, and upper respiratory problems. Some of these deadly diseases have a long latency period of 30-40 years, which makes diagnosis, which makes treatment impossible.
Where Is Asbestos Commonly Found?
This material was commonly used in most industries before the ’80s. Textile mills, construction companies, plumbing agencies, and insulation workers were handling asbestos every day. Carpenters, shipbuilders, and war veterans may be at a particularly high risk.
Despite the bans, this mineral can still be found in older buildings. Common sources of asbestos include the popular “cottage cheese ceiling” or popcorn ceiling, technical ducts, roofing tiles, cement, rope, and flooring. The use of asbestos reached its peak in the mod 1970s. Since then, millions of workers and their families have been exposed to asbestos containing products.
Is It Safe to Remove Asbestos?
Asbestos exposure isn’t always dangerous to human health. Several factors can help determine how it affects an individual. These include:
• The source of exposure
• Size and shape of asbestos fibers
• Duration of exposure
• Amount of asbestos inhaled
• Pre-existing lung disease
• Overall health
It’s important to be aware that asbestos fibers might not pose any risk unless they become damaged. Simple things, such as drilling holes in walls, renovating your home, and making repairs, can disturb asbestos fibers and allow them to drop off into the air. When ingested or breathed in, these microscopic fibers cause damage to the lungs, stomach, and cardiovascular system.
The risk also depends on the type of material. For example, floor tiles contain non-friable asbestos, so the risk of exposure is minimal. Popcorn ceilings are extremely friable, which means that they can easily release asbestos fibers.
Different countries have different laws regarding asbestos removal procedures. In general, this procedure is recommended only when the fibers can easily be made into airborne dust. If you decide to hire a contractor, it’s your responsibility to check his credentials. The specialist contract must be able to provide proof of training, specialist equipment testing, liability insurance, and licensing. He should also have accreditation from a recognized trade organization.
Asbestos Removal Procedures
Asbestos can be removed, enclosed, or encapsulated to prevent exposure. If you choose to have it removed from your home or workplace, the contractor will seal off the area using negative air pressure, duct tape, and polyethylene film. Basically, he will pull fresh air in the affected area and then use a powerful vacuum cleaner to clean up any remaining fibers. In some cases, asbestos removal can take longer and cost more than demolition of the building.
Covering (enclosure) and sealing (encapsulation) are cheaper than removal of asbestos fibers. These methods involve using a sealant or duct tape to prevent the fibers from being released in the air.