Asbestos Dangers Explained by Restoration Management Company
As business owners, homeowners, or even renters, it is important to be aware of the dangers and health risks associated with asbestos. Being proactive during a potential exposure is imperative for your health and anyone else who may have come in contact. RMC, an emergency restoration company, wanted to inform all of our readers about where you can typically find the harmful mineral fibers and what you should do if you encounter them. So first off, what is it?
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. It can usually be found in insulation, pipes, floor tiles, cement, and building materials. The most common areas you will find asbestos is in the ceiling, interior walls, floors, siding, stucco, garage, sheetrock, drywall, or heating ducts. It can also be found in wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, window putty, transite/ asbestos-cement pipes, and around boilers or water heaters. The mineral fibers are 0.03 microns or less. If disturbed asbestos can potentially stay airborne for up to 72hrs depending on airflow and size. It will always be three times longer than it is wide making them needle-like fibers. Specialists are most concerned about the fibers that are above this size, as EPA has required HEPA filters to remove fibers to 99.97% efficiency.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos fibers get into the air when materials containing the minerals are damaged, disturbed, crushed, or removed unsafely. When asbestos is crushed, it breaks into fibers too small to see, feel, or taste. No immediate signs of contact will take place. The biggest misconception is that asbestos exposure feels like fiberglass exposure where you may experience irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, or throat. It will not necessarily cause these same reactions. The problem with asbestos fibers is the double-helix shape of the fibers that remain in the lungs, which poses the potential risk for lung cancer, asbestosis (a scarring of the lung tissue), and mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lung cavity). The most alarming fact about an asbestos-related illness is that there is a latency period where you can experience zero symptoms for a number of years.
How do I know if my home or business has asbestos?
The short answer is unless you have a specialist evaluate your property, you most likely won’t able to tell. Asbestos is in over 3000 different building products and in some cases still available today. It is not uncommon to encounter asbestos in vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl tile, vinyl wallpaper, ceiling tiles, or flat corrugated roofing sheets. Additionally, be cautious of any grey or white pipe insulation in your home or business. Be aware that even though most asbestos was banned in the early 1980’s, contractors were allowed to sell any of the items they had in their stores until they were gone. For this reason, the EPA requires a survey to determine asbestos on ANY AGE building prior to renovation.
What should I do if I suspect an asbestos issue?
Concerned about your business, home, or rental, please do not hesitate to contact Restoration Management Company. It is crucial that you have a professional opinion as soon as possible. When you call RMC, we will send a technician to evaluate your property and ensure the safety of you, your tenants, and your customers. Remember, the longer you are exposed, the higher the risk of developing an illness later in life.
In addition to asbestos removal, RMC specializes in lead abatement, debris removal, controlled demolition/containment, and trauma scene clean-up. Click here for more information about the environmental services that RMC provides.