What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral found in specific rocks. It is commonly used to enhance the strength of building materials, as a fireproofing and thermal insulation material, an acoustical plaster ingredient and a component of a mixture used to produce a soft and textured appearance on walls and ceilings. Based on the uses of asbestos, it is noticeable that this material can be readily found in residential houses, apartments and office buildings. At residential houses, asbestos can be found on exterior surfaces, insulation, flooring, boilers, heaters, piping, interior surfaces and built-in equipment.
These materials and places may contain more than 1% asbestos. Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) can be friable or non-friable. Friable ACM can be reduced or crumbled into powder when dry and presents adverse health risks to people. Non-friable ACM cannot be reduced or crumbled to powder even when dry, making it the better option for building construction and household materials. Anyway, it is not a major concern if asbestos is present in several places in your house, as long as it is well-maintained in a non-friable or undamaged state.
However, issues concerning asbestos may arise and in order to avoid any health complications, it is recommended to do regular inspections of friable ACM if present. Leaving ACM intact as possible is usually the best option but if you notice any damage, like fallen or missing sections of sprayed on insulation or fireproofing and pieces hanging loosely from ACM, you should take prompt action. Often is such cases, repairing is okay. You should consider ACM removal from your house if it is completely damaged.
Why is asbestos removal important?
Arguably, it is relatively important to remove asbestos from residential homes.
Asbestos can pose a health risk when asbestos fibres are released into the air which people breathe. Normally, asbestos isn’t considered a major health risk if it remains undisturbed or undamaged and is in good condition. Generally, asbestos causes health problems when fibres become airborne and get inhaled. Most of the asbestos fibres that get into the lungs are removed by the natural defenses of the body, however, some fibres can get trapped inside the lungs. In some people, this can cause serious lung diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis that may develop some years later – typically a latency period of 10 to 40 years. This does not necessarily mean that everyone who gets exposed to asbestos fibres will contract asbestos-related diseases. In fact, the risk increases with an increase in the number of exposures combined with the high concentrations of fibres.
Because asbestos can present a substantial risk to human health once released to air, the material has been considered a harmful air pollutant and has been regulated by federal governments and several environmental institutions. The set regulations apply to facility contractors and owners performing work in commercial and public buildings. The regulations also address small business activities like fabricating and manufacturing operations, renovation and demolition activities, asbestos conversion processes as well as active & inactive waste disposal sites. Privately owned homes or apartments with four/fewer units have been exempt from these regulations unless the structures have been previously used or planned to be used as commercial or public facilities. For residential homes or apartments with four/fewer units, it is advisable for owners to know how to manage asbestos in their houses or apartment buildings.
If you consider removing asbestos-containing materials from your residential home, it is important to consider if it is undamaged or in good condition, the alternatives to removing ACM, laws and safety procedures and licensed asbestos removers. When handling or working with asbestos, it is good to remember to avoid using power tools, sanding or abrasive cutting discs, compressed air and high-pressure hoses. Consider working in well-ventilated areas and ensure the material is kept wet to reduce the release of dust and fibres. Additionally, don’t leave asbestos materials around places where they may be crushed or broken. Even though homeowners are legally approved to remove asbestos products from their property, asbestos poses health risks when removed, packaged, transported and disposed of, therefore safe handling is advised. Furthermore, it is recommended to hire a licensed inspector to inspect your house for ACM before any demolition or renovation activities. Importantly, avoid doing it yourself, instead hire licensed professionals to remove the loosely-bound asbestos due to the health risks linked with handling this material.
As we are an Adelaide based website, our recommendation for asbestos removal is Front Line Asbestos Solutions Adelaide. Head over to their website or their Front Line Asbestos Solutions Facebook page to receive a free quote or consultations for your residential home.
If you are interested to see the process of how asbestos is removed from residential homes, please watch the video below.