What exactly is asbestos?
Asbestos is the generic name for 6 different naturally-occurring fibrous minerals. A & M Abatement Services Ltd. in Edmonton explains:
“Asbestos can be primarily classified into two groups – Serpentine and Amphibole. The only kind of Serpentine asbestos is Chrysotile, which is the most commonly found asbestos variety in Canada. The five kinds of Amphibole asbestos include: Amosite (Caposite) and Crocidolite, which are the asbestos varieties used most commonly; and Tremolite, Anthophyllite and Actinolite, which, even though they weren’t used on a large scale commercially, did, by chance, find their way into construction products.”
Where might I find asbestos?
If your home was built before 1990 it might contain asbestos in old ceiling tiles, floor tiles, siding and in the joint compound used on seams between pieces of drywall. Asbestos can also be in older vermiculite attic insulation. Asbestos was used widely in construction because of it’s strength, chemical and thermal resistance and sound absorption. Unfortunately, it is very hazardous to your health.
Why is asbestos so harmful to my health?
Asbestos is only hazardous to health when fibers are disturbed, become airborne and are breathed into the lungs. Fibers can be released into the air when a product containing asbestos breaks down, usually during home renovations when older materials are being ripped out of the home or demolished.
The human effects from long-term unsafe asbestos exposure is well documented, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. When asbestos fibres are inhaled and carried to the lower areas of the lung they can cause fibrotic lung disease, also known as asbestosis. It can also cause harmful changes to the lining of the chest cavity causing a disease called pleura. Both of these diseases can lead to reduced respiratory function and even death. Long-term exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma.
What should I do if I suspect I might have asbestos, or if I’m not sure and about to start a home renovation?
You won’t be able to tell if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. It has to be tested in a laboratory. If you suspect that there is asbestos in your home, you should contact a professional asbestos removal company like A & M Abatement Services. They follow industry-tested procedures that will test your product for asbestos and then safely remove it from your property.
You should never attempt to remove asbestos by yourself. A & M Abatement Services are skilled professionals equipped with the knowledge and proper safety equipment to test and remove the hazardous materials. Asbestos removal must be done in compliance with provincial legislation and that includes the removal and disposal of building materials that contain asbestos from your property.
When should I contact A & M Abatement Services to check for asbestos?
If you own a home built before the 1990s and are planning on doing any renovations, demolitions or additions to your property you should contact A & M Abatement Services. They will be able to inspect your older materials for asbestos and safely remove it before you begin the work. Home renovation projects that are more likely to come across asbestos include:
– Replacing loose-fill vermiculite attic insulation that may contain asbestos.
– Removing old roofing shingles or siding that may contain asbestos.
– Removing vinyl floor tiles or ceiling tiles that may contain asbestos.
– Scraping or removing coatings like roofing compounds, sealants, paint, putty, caulking or drywall which could also contain asbestos.
Again, if you are unsure you should contact a professional. It is likely that you’ll have to remove the asbestos completely or in some cases it is safe to have the asbestos safely encased.