If you’re going to be doing any renovations this summer or buying a home that is a bit older, it’s important to test for things like asbestos. The last thing you want to do is bring your family into an environment that will make them sick. Learn more about asbestos and how to deal with it in today’s guest post.
Asbestos refers to a variety of six naturally-occurring minerals with thin, microscopic fibers. Asbestos is resistant to heat, chemicals, and fire, and does not conduct electricity. Because of its high tensile strength and flexibility, it is widely used in construction. When handled, it can separate into particles and its fibres are released into the air.
Asbestos is extremely dangerous when it is airborne; if inhaled, the fibres can become trapped in the lungs. Complications can develop in persons who are exposed to asbestos, such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
Because of the health risks, the use of asbestos has decreased. However, asbestos can still be found in many commercial and residential settings. Some of the materials that may contain asbestos can be found in the insulation materials, linoleum, drywall, roofing, and even in floor tiles. This is where environmental testing comes in.
Before any home or building repair, remodeling, or renovation—or any project that may disturb or damage asbestos-containing materials—is when environmental testing should first be conducted. There are companies that specifically test for the presence of asbestos in homes and buildings that are about to undergo demolition and renovation. Laboratories perform a variety of tests on water, air, particulates, and even on bulk materials to see if these contain asbestos.
Inspection for asbestos
Inspection involves a complete visual examination of an area. Air, water, and particulate samples are taken and analyzed in the laboratory. A written evaluation report is done on the inspection results. If asbestos is present, the report will show where it is located and the extent of damage. The evaluation will also provide recommendations for addressing the problem.
When asbestos is found in the home or building, there are two types of solutions that can be done. The first is repair, and the other is removal. Repair involves either covering or sealing off the material containing asbestos. Covering or enclosure involves placing a protective wrap over or around the asbestos-containing material to prevent it from releasing fibres. Sealing or encapsulation is treating the asbestos material with a coating that prevents the material from releasing fibres, or with a sealant that works to bind the asbestos fibres together.
The other option is removal, which requires special training. Since it will disturb asbestos-containing materials, it poses the greatest risk of fibre release, and must be done by a professional. Asbestos professionals are trained in properly handling asbestos materials and know what needs to be done to correct the situation.
Air sampling and monitoring
Air sampling is done before, during, and after a home or building project is done, especially if the project focuses on the removal of asbestos-containing materials. Project monitoring during abatement work is also done to ensure that workers follow local, state, and federal regulations.
If you are moving into a building or home, you should first have your place tested for the presence of asbestos. If asbestos is found, repair or removal may be necessary. These steps may mean you would have to wait before you can occupy your new place, but when it comes to your family’s health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.1