Asbestos questions

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What is asbestos?

Asbestos fibers in its natural mineral form

Asbestos is  a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals, which have excellent heat resistance, insulating properties, and tensile strength, but can cause serious respiratory issues when inhaled. Given the health consequences from asbestos exposure, most countries regulate the mining, use, remediation, and disposal of asbestos.

Why is/was asbestos used?

Asbestos use dates thousands of years and accelerated in the industrial revolution due to its resistance to fire, heat, and corrosion, as well as its high-tensile strength and low electrical conductivity. For decades, asbestos was thought of as a miracle building material and its use greatly reduced the severity and number of building fires.

What types of products contain asbestos?

A specially suited professional removes a roof containing asbestos
A specially suited professional removes a roof containing asbestos.

Asbestos fibers have been used to create thousands of industrial, commercial, and consumer products–particularly items exposed to high heat or used in insulating. Back in the 1950s, even some baby blankets were made from asbestos! However, its use declined rapidly in the 1970s as the public became more aware of the negative health impacts associated with asbestos.  In the US, asbestos is mostly found in older buildings used as insulation, and is incorporated into many different building products, including tile and vinyl flooring, flooring adhesive, drywall and joint compounds, ceiling textures like “popcorn” ceilings, fire-resistant coatings, bricks and fireplace cement, and boiler gaskets.

When is asbestos exposure dangerous?

Prolonged inhalation of disturbed asbestos fibers causes serious illness, including death. Asbestos exposure is known to cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure increases the likelihood of contracting lung cancer, especially for smokers.

When did the public become aware of the danger of asbestos?

During the 1900s, the detrimental impacts of asbestos inhalation gained increased public awareness, and significant regulation was enacted in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, its use is drastically diminished and television advertisements by plaintiff lawyers have informed much of the public about its dangers.

Has asbestos been banned in the US and other countries?

While asbestos is no longer widely used in US manufacturing, especially in consumer products, some products legally contain asbestos.
While asbestos is no longer widely used in US manufacturing, especially in consumer products, some products legally contain asbestos.

Asbestos has been banned in many countries, but there is not a total asbestos ban in the US. However, its use is severely restricted and the American Institute of Architecture’s (AIA) standard building specification prohibits the use of asbestos. However, some products containing asbestos from other countries such as China and Russia are sometimes found in US stores.

Are products with asbestos always dangerous?

No, not always. Asbestos that is properly sealed and undisturbed is generally not a problem. For instance, old square 9″x9″ floor tiles likely contain asbestos, yet if they are well-maintained and sealed, it is not a health problem. However, when such materials become disturbed or frayed, whether due to renovation activities or their own decline, the microscopic fibers can be suspended in the air for many days.

Is asbestos a problem when renovating?

When remodeling, consider that inadvertently disturbing asbestos will expose you, others and the environment to its harmful effects.
When remodeling, it is important to consider that inadvertently disturbing existing asbestos will expose you, others and the environment to its harmful effects.

Renovation and demolition are two of the activities that are most likely to release asbestos fibers from building materials. When renovating a building where asbestos may exist (generally in structures built before the 1980s), it is wise to make sure asbestos is not present by having an inspector assess potential risks. Improperly disturbing asbestos exposes you, others and the environment to its harmful effects.

EPA-certified professionals use specialized containment and ventilation systems during asbestos abatement. Such asbestos removal professionals know how to safely remove or encapsulate asbestos without exposing others to its dangerous fibers.

How do you know if asbestos is present? What should you look for in a vendor?

The only way to know for sure is to bring in a qualified asbestos inspector who can provide testing and a professional opinion as to how to handle any asbestos. Be sure to check that your vendor uses EPA-certified staff who comply with OSHA, EPA and KDHE regulations; have the experience to do the job correctly; and have positive reviews from former customers.

For safety and peace of mind, call ACM Removal for professional asbestos removal.

Ensure your home and business are safe for you, your family, your employees and your customers. For more information, a complimentary proposal and to schedule services, contact us now at 316.684.1800.

ACM Removal, LLC