Is it Asbestos in my house?
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals. The names of the six materials are, Amosite, Chrysotile, Tremolite, Actinolite, Anthophyllite and Crocidolite. Because of its properties such as heat resistance, strength and flexibility asbestos was used in various industries including construction, automobile, garments, maritime, etc. Gradually harmful effects of asbestos fibres to humans came to be known and its role in diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma became clear. When these harmful effects of asbestos became clear, asbestos was banned from many countries (more than 50 as of now) and many other restricted their usage to only a few products (USA for example allows asbestos usage in automobile brake lining etc.).
Why identifying Asbestos is important for you?
Asbestos usage in the past was extensive and while in many countries it is banned, old products and construction still stand and they are likely to have asbestos in them. Further, in most of countries across the world asbestos is still not banned. This is especially true in case of developing countries where there are little restrictions and regulation for asbestos industry. Also, asbestos can be anywhere, for example, it can be in tiles of your floor or roof, it can be part of your pipes, insulation, etc. Thus, irrespective of the fact that you are living in a country where asbestos is banned, restricted or where it is not, it is a wise choice to be able to identify asbestos. It should be known that asbestos inside a tile, roofing, etc. is not dangerous as such. It becomes dangerous when the asbestos fibres get loose and become airborne. Apart from natural decay, human intervention such as breaking, drilling, renovation, etc. can also disturb the asbestos and release it in air. Thus from a passive stage the asbestos becomes an active risk. The most worrisome part is, if one is not careful you will never even know asbestos was even released.
How to identify Asbestos at home?
In case the house you are living in was constructed before 1980, there is a high chance it will have asbestos in it. Unfortunately, asbestos fibres are so fine (700-1000 times finer than that of hair) they are not visible through naked eyes. Therefore the only way to identify them, or find out whether your house actually has asbestos, is to look for probable places asbestos was used and then consult a laboratory and licensed inspector to test it.
Probable places where you can find asbestos at home are:
- Exteriors : Roof, corrugated roof, shingles, window putty
- Insulation : Batt insulation, vermiculite insulation, wall insulation
- Interiors and flooring : Textured paint, asbestos flooring, acoustic finishes, sound proofing material, artificial ashes and embers
- Heating and boiling water: duct lining, wall gaskets, door gaskets, heating surface covering, lining, wood / coal stoves
- Wiring and appliances : wiring insulation, switchboard panels, fuse boxes, freezers, dryers, toasters, dishwashers, range hoods, etc.
- Others : brake linings (cars), clutches, gaskets, patching compounds
Where can asbestos be in your house?
Asbestos packed in casings or mixed with other material is harmless. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), presence of asbestos at home is fine until the source is tampered or malfunctions or wears out. It is these situations where there is a real risk of danger. Under no circumstances, try to take sample or do any damage to any suspected areas yourself as that will spread asbestos in air. Asbestos fibres, being very light, can stay in the air for hours or even days. In many cases, there is a clear mention of whether an appliance has asbestos in it. If they are working fine, there is no danger. Only when you repair or open them there is a risk.
If based on above points you are suspicious of asbestos and want to test for asbestos in your home, call New Vision Homes on 0300 373 0373. We will take a sample of any suspicious material. We will also advise you to take precautions while it is done, such as removing furniture, etc. The sample is tested in laboratories for asbestos. These tests are done in laboratories which are approved by authorities.
What if Asbestos is confirmed in your house?
If the tests come back positive, based on the condition of the product / location we will decide what to do. If the sampled product is fine and in working condition –it will be left as it is and regularly inspected. But if the area is degrading, broken or crumbling we will take steps to remove it as soon as possible. The removal is a very specialized process and should not be done by you. We will be calling a special abatement company which handles removal of asbestos.