What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a set of six minerals that is commonly used in various building purposes. Fibrous and naturally occurring, this material has been used for around 4,000 years now, with people using them then for different infrastructures, unknowing about the dangers that the material exposes them to. Since the boom in mining of asbestos during the 19th century, asbestos has been sought after for production because:
1. It is quite affordable. Compared to other mineral sets that are used in electrical wiring production, asbestos is relatively cheaper to use- all the more appealing to construction.
2. It has good sound absorption.
3. It is with tensile strength that is up to par. Builders require materials to have a good maximum capacity to handle tensile pressure, and asbestos presents a fair amount of tensile strength.
4. It can withstand various damages such as heat (even fire, to a degree), electrical and chemical damages
But sadly, the cons outweigh the pros of using asbestos. Disregarding the advantages stated above, and considering that even in varying durations of exposure, be it a short or a long-term kind of exposure, asbestos is extremely hazardous to your health:
• Asbestos inhalation may cause:
- Asbestosis - which is a lung condition wherein the linings of the lungs become scarred, thicken, and will eventually result in various degrees of difficulty in breathing because of fibrous tissue.
- Certain lung cancers, particularly Mesothelioma - which is a very aggressive kind of malignant cancer. It spreads not only in the linings of the lungs but also to the entire abdominal cavity. There are even subtypes of this, such as:
• Pleural - with regards to the lung space
• Peritoneal, - with regards to the abdominal cavity and
• Pericardial Mesothelioma - which affects even the heart area!
Now, bear in mind that asbestos is not only used in building different commercial infrastructures, but also in different components in your home! That's right, you can find asbestos in materials used to make:
• Cement shingles
• Wall components
• Textured paint
• Spray-on decor
• Fire-proof materials such as stove pads and gloves
• Furnace ducts
• Metal piping's and tubings
• And much, much more!
The chances of having asbestos in your home increases the older your house is. Especially if your house was built during the 1930's or 50's, asbestos was most probably used even in your home's central insulation.
While new houses are least susceptible to having asbestos, still, these may be found in your very home! Have the walls, floorings, and your floor mats of your house checked. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry. Never touch suspected asbestos-containing materials in your home with your bare hands, and take care not to disturb woven in materials that may have been damaged. Trauma in different ways such as tearing, pinching or slight prodding inflicted to such might trigger the release of asbestos fibers that is very deadly to your health.
Get a professional to handle the removal of asbestos in your home. Be it major or even minor repairs or total asbestos removal, you should leave it to a trained individual to ensure that your house is asbestos-free.
Cresta is a twenty-something home improvement writer from the South East. She just had her flat checked for asbestos and bugs.