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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What Is Asbestos?

7/29/2021 (Permalink)

6 different white and brown fibers of the 6 types of asbestos The EPA classifies six different materials as asbestos

Do you have popcorn ceilings? Have you ever wondered if you have asbestos in your home? And what is asbestos exactly? How do you test for it? There is so many questions people have regarding their home and asbestos.  

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in the ground typically found in North America. It was frequently used in the past as a flame-resistant insulation. It is a durable material made of layers of fibers that together virtually create an indestructible material. It was widely used up until the 70's when it was discovered to be a carcinogen. 

Asbestos is found to be the sole cause of a deadly and rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. After being exposed to asbestos mesothelioma can take 20-50 years before symptoms can appear. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Despite asbestos being known as a carcinogen it is still not banned. However, most manufactures have phased out the use of the material to switch to safer alternatives. 

The EPA classifies six different materials as asbestos. All six being human carcinogens.

  1. Amosite
  2. Crocidolite
  3. Tremolite
  4. Anthophyllite
  5. Actinolite 
  6. Chrysotile 

Only amosite which is the brown colored asbestos and crocidolite (blue) are mainly used. 

Now that we know what asbestos is and the negative side effects lets talk about what to do when you come across asbestos. When finding asbestos in your home or building you don't necessarily need to go remove it immediately. It is actually best to leave it untouched if it is intact. Generally asbestos containing material that is in good condition and not disturbed will not release asbestos fibers. In the case the material is not in good condition or is in the vicinity of a renovation it should only be removed by a trained professional. 

If you suspect the material contains asbestos but are not completely sure you can have testing done to confirm. Air testing can also be performed to confirm the air quality is safe after removal.

The most common scenario we come across is asbestos containing tile found hidden under layers of flooring. In the event our technicians suspect asbestos we will have testing performed to verify and then plan on the best route of execution. 

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