Asbestos Removal29 November 2013
While everyone has heard the word ‘asbestos’ in connection with health issues, most do not know exactly what it is or why it is dangerous. Below, we will explore this, along with how to detect and remove it.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a subject that for a long time was considered the ideal insulation. For protecting people from injury caused by brushing against hot pipes and to prevent energy loss from these same pipes, insulation is necessary. One of the major drawbacks of creating fibrous insulation is that doing so makes any material used in the insulation more flammable by increasing surface area and oxygen flow. Asbestos is virtually impossible to set aflame, even when stretched very thin. Because of this, it became the standard material for many insulating applications. Just as people didn’t realize that smoking was hazardous to people’s health for many years, the danger of asbestos was also unknown until it had been in use for decades.
How is it Harmful?
When pulled into thin insulation fibers and over time, asbestos becomes brittle and can disintegrate into a fine dust. This dust, when inhaled by people, contributes heavily to a form of lung cancer called Mesothelioma. A terribly malignant form of cancer, once Mesothelioma is present, it is virtually always fatal. A particularly insidious aspect of Mesothelioma is that it builds up over repeated exposure to asbestos and does not cause noticeable symptoms until it is too late.
How can you Identify Asbestos?
This presents a difficulty because asbestos is generally not an active hazard until it is disturbed. In other words, the very act of looking for it could break it into the very dangerous dust that one wants to avoid. As a rule of thumb, buildings built after the mid 1970s will not contain asbestos in any form. For older buildings, the more pipe that is run in open spaces, such as a basement or open ceiling, the more insulation is necessary and the greater the odds asbestos is present. If there is any chance that asbestos has been used in the building, calling in a professional to inspect for it is a very wise move.
How can you Remove Asbestos?
Asbestos removal is not a job for the amateur. As a simple inspection can create and spread asbestos dust, it should be no surprise that actual removal of the insulation can do the same on a far larger scale. The only safe removal method is contacting a qualified plumber who has the knowledge and equipment to handle stripping out all of the asbestos insulation.
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