What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
We know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
However, until the 1970’s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Common products that might have contained asbestos that may also release fibers in the past include:
- steam pipes
- furnace ducts- insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape.
These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly. Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation. Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977. If you think asbestos may be in your home, don’t panic.
Usually, the best thing to do is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone.
Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed and fibers are released and then inhaled into the lungs. If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal. Unnecessary removal is a waste of money.
Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family Caution! Do not dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These actions will disturb tiny asbestos fibers and may release them into the air.