What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fibre. In the past asbestos was added to a variety of materials to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. It has been called 'the miracle material'.
What health problems are associated with exposure to Asbestos?
Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air that people breath. When inhaled, asbestos fibres lodge in the lungs, causing scarring that can ultimately lead to severely impared lung function (asbestosis) and cancer of the lungs or abdominal cavity (mesothelioma). The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibres inhaled. The symtoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
What products in the house could contain Asbestos?
- Insulation on: steam pipes, boilers, furnace ducts, plumbing pipes,
- Resilient floor tiles: vinyl asbestos, rubber, backing of vinyl sheet flooring,
floor tile adhesive,
- Door gaskets: furnaces, wood stoves, coal stoves,
- Asbestos cement: roofing, siding,
- Soundproofing or decorative: tiles or sprayed on walls or ceilings,
- Insulation: vermiculite,
- Patching: joint compounds, textured paints,
- Major appliance components,
What should be done about Asbestos in the house?
If you do not know whether the products in your home contain asbestos, you may want to have an experienced professional inspect them. If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, the best interim measure (unless the product is peeling or deteriorating) is to seal the surface temporarily so that fibres will not be released into the air. If the product is deteriorating or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb the asbestos it is best to have it removed by a professional asbestos removal specialist.
Do not dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These steps will disturb tiny asbestos fibres and may release them into the air.