What Is Asbestos?
Is Asbestos Dangerous
Are All products With Asbestos A Health
Do All People Exposed To Asbestos, Develop
Asbestos Related Disease
What Are Asbestos-Containing Products
How Can I tell If I Have Asbestos In My
If Asbestos Is Found In My Home, What Should
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber found in rocks, of naturally
occurring silicate minerals that can be separated into fibers.
There are several kinds of asbestos fibers, all of which
are fire resistant and not easily destroyed or degraded
by natural processes. The fibers are strong, durable, and
resistant to heat and fire. They are also long, thin and
flexible, so that they can even be woven into cloth, because
of these qualities, asbestos has been used in thousands
of consumer, industrial, maritime, automotive, scientific
and building products.
The above photo shows a typical asbestos insulated heating
pipe found in older homes.
During the twentieth century, some 30 million tons of asbestos
have been used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards
and commercial buildings in the United States. There are
several types of asbestos fibers, of which three have been
used for commercial applications: (1) Chrysotile, or white
asbestos, comes mainly from Canada, and has been very widely
used in the US. It is white-gray in color and found in serpentine
rock. (2) Amosite, or brown asbestos, comes from southern
Africa. (3) Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, comes from southern
Africa and Australia.
Is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos has been shown to cause cancer of the lung and
stomach according to studies of workers and others exposed
to asbestos. There is no level of exposure to asbestos fibers
that experts can assure is completely safe. Some asbestos
materials can break into small fibers which can float in
the air and these fibers can be inhaled. The tiny fibers
are so small they can not be seen with the naked eye. They
can pass through the filters of normal vacuum cleaners and
get back into the air. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can
become lodged in tissue for a long time. After many years
cancer or mesothelioma can develop.
Are All products With Asbestos
A Health Risk?
No. A health risk exists only when asbestos fibers are released
from the material or product. Soft, easily crumbled asbestos
containing material has the greatest potential for asbestos
release and therefore has the greatest potential to create
Do All People Exposed To
Asbestos, Develop Asbestos Related Disease?
No. Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos do
not develop any related health problems. Health studies
of asbestos workers and others, however, show that the chances
of developing some serious illnesses, included lung cancer,
are greater after exposure to asbestos.
What Are Asbestos-Containing
What is common to many asbestos-containing products is that
they were (are) used to contain heat (i.e. thermal insulation.)
This was the main reason for their use. It is impossible
to list all of the products that have, at one time or another,
contained asbestos. One of the most common products asbestos
is found in, is in the insulation material found on heating
pipes and ducts of homes built before 1960.
Some of the other common asbestos-containing products are
insulating cement, insulating block, asbestos cloth, gaskets,
packing materials, thermal seals, refractory and boiler
insulation materials, transite board, asbestos cement pipe,
fireproofing spray, joint compound, vinyl floor tile, ceiling
tile, mastics, adhesives, coatings, acoustical textures,
duct & pipe insulation for heating, ventilation and
air conditioning (HVAC) systems, roofing products, insulated
electrical wire and panels, and brake and clutch assemblies.
How Can I tell If I Have Asbestos
In My Home?
who have frequently worked with asbestos (such as plumbers,
building contractors or heating contractors) often are able
to make a reasonable judgment about whether or not a material
contains asbestos on a visual inspection. Many professional
home inspectors also can make a reasonable visual judgment.
To be absolutely certain, an industrial hygienist would
have to make the identification.
If Asbestos Is Found In My
Home, What Should I Do?
In most cases, asbestos containing materials
are best left alone.
When it is necessary to disturb asbestos, you should contact
a licensed asbestos contractor. You can also obtain a copy
of Asbestos in the Home published by the U.S. Consumer Products
Safety Commission (800-638-2772) which discusses the situation
and makes recommendations. Remember, do not dust, sweep,
or vacuum particles suspected of containing asbestos fibers.