Just about anyone who hears the word asbestos looks as if they want to turn and run the other way. Asbestos is made up of naturally occurring minerals and was widely used in various products within the construction industry. These products were used in many new homes of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, as well as industrial and commercial facilities.
Today asbestos is no longer used, but if you’re planning on doing any renovations to your home that was built prior to 1990, asbestos abatement or removal is crucial before you begin. If you just dive in and start tearing things up, you could be setting yourself up for some potential serious health issues down the road.
The primary issue with asbestos as it relates to home renovations is that when you stir up an area that contains asbestos, the fibers can become airborne. And when these fibers split, they split lengthwise into thinner and thinner threads. These needle-like fibers can remain in the air for quite some time, ready to be inhaled by anyone who is in the vicinity. After it finally settles, an asbestos fiber can easily get stirred up back into the air and the process will start all over again.
The health dangers of inhaling asbestos fibers into the lungs don’t usually show up for many years, but they are severe. Lung cancer is one of the more common asbestos-related diseases, as is mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer that can manifest itself in the lining of several different internal organs.
Many people who worked in places with asbestos back in the 60’s to the 80’s are now seeing the devastating results of that exposure.
In an older home, asbestos may be found within different types of insulation, cement products, certain vinyl products, acoustical tiles and plaster, some roofing materials and drywall products.
The biggest mistake you can make is to just assume your house is clear or that the relatively short time you’ll be exposed to it won’t cause you any harm.
What to Do
If you suspect that your home might have asbestos, or even if you’re pretty sure it does, the first step is to have that confirmed. Call an environmental consulting firm (FERRO is happy to refer a reputable one for you or simply look up a local specialty trade organization like EACO) to come in and take samples. Do not disturb anything and do not try to remove anything yourself. If it’s confirmed that you do have asbestos, call a qualified asbestos abatement company like Ferro Canada to remove it for you. It may seem like an awful lot of work just for some basic renovations, but it will be more than worth it in the end to ensure the safety of you and your family.