The Hidden Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos was widely used as an additive to quite a number of products in the past for its heat resistant and insulating properties, as well as its ability to strengthen the products that it was added to.
A naturally occurring mineral fiber, asbestos has been completely banned since the year 2003 after being found to be a human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Exposure to this product can result to serious chronic health problems, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
What’s troubling is that symptoms of these diseases may not show up even after years since the exposure. In fact, even though over a decade has passed since it was ruled out for use in common building materials, we’re still seeing health problems arise from breathing in fibers coming from old homes, building, work sites, and dumping areas.
In the home
Being a substance that was commonly mixed with other materials, asbestos' presence is a bit difficult to determine. As it was commonly used in structures built before 1990, all pre-1990 building materials and substances should be suspected and be handled and disposed of with utmost care.
Asbestos fibers are very fine, and can stay suspended once airborne for hours to days. That said, old homes built prior to 1990 should be duly inspected, especially when planning demolitions or renovations.
If you do plan on renovating a home that was built prior to 1990 but have no idea if there is presence of asbestos, then the safest option is to automatically assume all materials you tear down are contaminated and be disposed of carefully like hazardous waste.
In the workplace
Similarly, industrial and office buildings built prior to 1990 fall right into the category of having suspected asbestos material. However, the mere presence of this substance does not necessarily put the people going in and out of structure at risk. Nevertheless, work places should be inspected for the presence of asbestos, especially in the air as that is highly dangerous.
If you work in a company that deals with this substance on a daily basis, then following safety protocol is the best bet to ensuring that you don’t get exposed to asbestos fibers. Additionally, ask your employer for specialized training on how to deal with asbestos.
Asbestos does have many uses, but its dangers far outweigh its advantages especially in the home setting. Hiring a professional to perform asbestos sample testing will provide you with a written document of the test results – just be sure to hire someone whose asbestos training and certificates are up to date and authentic.