What Is Asbestos? ECOS Wants You To Understand Common Characteristics of Asbestos and How to Identify It
ECOS Regularly Receives Questions About Asbestos From Our Commercial and Residential Clients. We want to help our customers and our communities gain a better understanding about asbestos and thus we decided to publish this blog post. We encourage feedback! After reading this blog post, if you have further questions and/or concerns, then please call our office on 888-375-3267. We hope you find the information below informative & please realize that ECOS regularly performs asbestos testing and asbestos removal services each and every day.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral once used for virtually everything in the construction and manufacturing industries. It was recognized for its durability and fireproofing properties. Unfortunately, asbestos is also toxic and the leading cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen.
Asbestos becomes deadly when its toxic fibers are inhaled or swallowed. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases often develop decades after exposure. Heavy, repeated exposure increases the risk.
While asbestos is still legal in the U.S., it is highly regulated. Products can contain asbestos as long as it accounts for less than 1 percent of the product.
What Is Asbestos? & When Does Asbestos Become Dangerous?
Because of its heavy use from the early 1900s to the 1980s, asbestos construction materials are still prevalent in many older homes and buildings.
These asbestos-containing products are generally harmless if left intact, but they become extremely dangerous when disturbed during renovations, demolitions, regular home construction or repairs, or by natural disasters that cause damage to roofs, walls or floors. If you have been exposed to asbestos on the job and start to show symptoms like coughing or pain in the chest/abdomen, then it’s important to see a mesothelioma specialist to ensure its not serious.
Asbestos was regularly mixed in with a variety of construction materials such as insulation, drywall, ceiling tiles, tile flooring, cement and ductwork connectors.
This makes identifying asbestos no easy task.
There are actually several types of asbestos. Asbestos refers to a set of six naturally occurring minerals: Chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. Chrysotile and amosite are the most common forms, with chrysotile accounting for approximately 90 percent of the asbestos used commercially in the world.
All forms are carcinogenic, but each is different in their chemical compositions.
You likely won’t be running into any of the six in their natural form, however, so being familiar with products likely to contain asbestos and where to look for these products in your home or on a work site is essential.
What Is Asbestos? & Where Is Asbestos Generally Found?
Key culprits include:
- Insulation: It was the biggest source of asbestos exposure for workers throughout the 1900s. Asbestos insulation can still be found in the attics, ceilings, walls and basements of many older residential and commercial buildings.
- Tiling: Includes flooring, ceiling and roofing tiles.
- Adhesives: Usually found beneath vinyl tiles and other flooring. Fibrous adhesives that were applied with a brush or sprayer are particularly dangerous when
they break down, generating dust.
- Cement: Adding asbestos to cement made it stronger and more resistant to fire.
Again, if left alone, these asbestos-containing products are reasonably safe, but disturbing them will likely lead to exposure to dangers asbestos fibers. Cement and insulation also break down and deteriorate over time, possibly leading to exposure.
Also be aware of chipped or cracked floor tiles or crumbling ceiling tiles. This is likely in older homes, where the asbestos in the products is friable, meaning that it crumbles easily.
Before working with or around these products in older homes or buildings, consult a company that specializes in dealing with asbestos. Hiring certified asbestos inspectors and hazardous material specialists ensures safety and minimizes health risks.
If you suspect asbestos is in your home or office, Call the asbestos testing experts at ECOS before conducting any structural work.
Asbestos exposure is serious and avoidable and should not be reckoned with unprepared.