Asbestos Abatement: What Makes Asbestos So Dangerous?

Fair question, right? I mean, if we are expected to remove it and legislation has been passed to ensure that happens then the first questions should really be “What makes asbestos so dangerous?”

Before we answer that question, let's take a look at what asbestos is: a mineral fiber that was used in a variety of construction materials because it is an excellent insulator and an effective fire-retardant. It is commonly found in older homes and buildings.

asbestos-removalThe problem with these fibers, and what makes asbestos abatement a wise option, are the elevated concentrations that may occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by drilling, cutting, sanding or other remodeling or renovation activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release fibers into the air in homes or buildings, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living or working there.

Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Exposure creates a long-term risk of developing lung cancer, commonly known as asbestosis (an irreversible -- and potentially fatal -- scarring of the lungs), and mesothelioma (a cancer of the abdominal linings and the chest).

Many common products found in older buildings (Pre- mid to late eighties) and houses have contained asbestos in the past. Asbestos is a strong insulator, and in the form of a blanket or paper tape, the fibers cover steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducts. Door gaskets in wood and coal stoves or furnaces, as well as the cement sheet and millboard used around them, often contained asbestos.

Floor tiles in the past commonly contained asbestos fibers, as did the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and even the adhesives used to install tile.

The fibers are also found in soundproofing material sprayed on walls and ceilings, as well as some kinds of wall and ceiling patching, and some types of drywall joint compounds.

Outside building products like cement roofing, shingles, and siding often contained asbestos, and even older household products like fireproof gloves, stove-top pads and ironing board covers might contain the material.

Contact us if you suspect you have asbestos material in your house or building before beginning a renovation or remodeling project. Materials containing asbestos may release fibers into the air if damaged, sanded, scraped, or removed improperly. Our workers are professionally trained and certified to handle asbestos abatement projects and after all, that keeps you and your employees and family safe.

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