Asbestos was more commonly used before it was discovered to have harmful effects on health. For newer buildings and homes, asbestos is not such a concern. However, many older buildings are still in use. If you suspect that there is asbestos in your home, it is important to identify and prepare for its immediate removal. Many studies have indicated that lung cancer can be traced to inhaling the fibres of the material.
Asbestos is difficult to identify
Asbestos is the formation of mineral fibres that are typically found in rock formations. It’s durable and a fire retardant. These properties were so valued that they were used in a variety of construction materials. It can be mixed with other materials, which makes it hard to identify simply by looking at it. In construction, it’s generally mixed to make three colours: blue, brown and white.
It can only truly be identified through lab testing. Typically, people who are concerned usually send a sample to a professional. The sample will be tested using polarized light microscopy under magnification, or transmission electron microscopy. It’s important to use a reputable lab. Some laboratories in Canada have international accreditation.
Looking for the signs
Determine the age of construction of the building or home. There may be a concern if construction took place before the 1970’s. It’s commonly used as insulation in commercial buildings, but it could also appear in a number of uses:
- Roof construction, such as cement roofing, roofing felt, shingles, and siding
- Vinyl, asphalt, and rubber floor tiles
- Steam pipes, furnace ducts, hot water tanks, and boilers
- Adhesive backings, asbestos blanket, or paper tape
- Artificial materials for burning and decorative purposes in gas fireplaces
- Textured paints
- Insulation in furnaces and wood burning stoves
- Wall or ceiling compounds
Hiring a professional
You may want more information before hiring a specialist to perform testing in your home, but investigating can have serious consequences to your health. You should avoid disturbing potential sources because breathing in the material is how asbestos is hazardous, If you are serious about seeing for yourself, wear sufficient protective gear. Most importantly, wear a breathing mask with a HEPA filter. Also, try not to expose your skin to the substance. In addition to your personal gear, you should control any dispersal of the fibres into the air. If you find suspicious insulation, prepare a container to safely store and transport the sample. Healthy Environmental uses an accredited and reputable lab for air quality and mould/asbestos testing. Contact us for more information regarding testing, sampling and remediation.
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