Asbestos: What is it, Why is it harmful?
Asbestos; we’ve all heard about it, but let’s get to the facts! Asbestos was once an important construction material for all homes and buildings, as it was cheap and durable.
Asbestos is defined as “a highly heat-resistance fibrous silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics, and is used in brake linings and fire-resistant and insulating materials.”
It is a group of naturally occurring minerals, found in rock formations.
There are 3 different types of Asbestos that were commonly used in a wide range of products:
- Chrysotile (white asbestos)
This is the most commonly used form of Asbestos, used in automobile brake linings, gaskets and boiler seals and insulation for pipes, ducts and appliances.
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
This was commonly used in some spray-on coatings, pipe insulation, plastics and cement products.
- Amosite (brown/grey asbestos)
This was most frequently used in cement sheets and pipe insulation and can also be found in insulating board, ceiling tiles and thermal insulation products.
Why is Asbestos harmful/dangerous?
When Asbestos is disturbed, it forms a dust of tiny fibres and this dust can be easily breathed in. These fibres reduce in size, until they are small enough to travel deep into the body where they pierce the lining of the lungs. The body is unable to remove materials from this deep within the lungs and these particles can end up staying there for the duration of a persons life.
Asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer are the three most common serious health issues associated with asbestos exposure.
5 Signs of Asbestos in your home:
1- If your house was built prior/during 1980’s, there is a high chance of Asbestos contamination.
2- Most flat, corrugated roofing and bitumen roofing are contaminated with Asbestos
3- Vinyl tiles and sheets with paper or millboard have a high chance of being polluted with asbestos (especially if house was built prior/during the 1980’s)
4- Grey or White Asbestos is widely used as insulation for pipes, particularly the fittings. White asbestos tapers were also used on pipes as insulation
5- Old ceilings can be made of asbestos cement sheets. Check for cover traps, light bases and vent covers as all these can be contaminated.