It’s reasonable to be anxious when searching to buy a home and coming across potential asbestos. Many homes built in or before the early 1990s may have asbestos present on the property. Asbestos is related with some health hazards. When asbestos fibres are breathed, they can be dangerous causing lung damage, which can lead to diseases such as asbestosis (lung tissue scarring), lung cancer, and mesothelioma (lung lining cancer). These materials do not generally represent a health danger to building occupants when left undamaged and undisturbed.
Asbestos materials are primarily in the form of bonded asbestos cement and could have been utilised in a variety of products, including:
- Drainage channels for sewage
- The backings of carpets, rugs, and floor coverings
- Roof shingles and guttering
- Fibro or fibrolite sheeting
- Vent pipes
- Insulation spaces
- Switches and power points
- Around gas and wood heaters
- Garden edging and fencing
- Dog kennels
- Vinyl tiles
So the question is then, when should you be cautious now that you know where asbestos can be found? Asbestos in its natural state is not dangerous. It only becomes dangerous when it is damaged or deteriorates. When it becomes airborne, it has the potential to cause lung cancer or asbestosis in cases of moderate to high exposure in the body. Asbestosis is a highly serious and even fatal infection if it progresses.
As a result, if you’re seeking to buy a house, keep in mind that asbestos in a friable form is both dangerous and expensive to remove.
What are the types of Asbestos you should look out for?
Actinolite Asbestos: Actinolite asbestos is often dark in colour and features sharp, needle-like fibres that are easily ingested while airborne. Other minerals found in actinolite include calcium, magnesium, iron, and silicon. Previously, actinolite was utilised in cement, insulating materials, paints, sealants, and drywall.
Amosite Asbestos: One of the most dangerous varieties of asbestos is amosite asbestos, often known as brown asbestos. Amosite is mostly mined in South Africa and is distinguished by sharp, brittle, needle-like fibres that are easily swallowed.
Anthophyllite Asbestos: Anthophyllite, like other kinds of asbestos in the amphibole family, is made up of long, needle-like fibers that are easily breathed into the lungs. Anthophyllite has a brown to yellowish tint and is mostly made of magnesium and iron. Anthophyllite, one of the rarer types of asbestos, was not widely employed in consumer items but can be found in some cement and insulating materials.
Crocidolite Asbestos: Crocidolite asbestos, often known as blue asbestos, is the most dangerous kind of amphibole asbestos. Crocidolite is composed of incredibly thin, sharp fibres that are exceptionally easy to inhale. According to studies, crocidolite is so dangerous that it may be to blame for more illnesses and fatalities than any other type of asbestos. Crocidolite was rarely employed in commercial items due to its lower heat resistance than other forms of asbestos.
Tremolite Asbestos: Tremolite asbestos is well-known for its heat resistance and ability to be woven into fabric. Tremolite, like other asbestos in the amphibole family, possesses sharp fibres that are easily breathed or ingested. Tremolite is no longer mined and has been linked to numerous cases of asbestos-related cancer and illnesses. Tremolite is a mineral that ranges in colour from milky white to dark green and is found in minerals such as talc and vermiculite. Tremolite was once utilized in a wide range of products, including paint, sealants, insulation, roofing, and plumbing supplies.
How is Asbestos removed?
Asbestos should only be handled, removed, and disposed of by asbestos removal professionals. By adhering to standards, asbestos removal professionals can handle asbestos safely. A licensed specialist will initially conduct a visual evaluation of the area for potential risks. The suspicious material will subsequently be removed and the samples will be analysed by lab technicians to determine their asbestos content. If the samples contain asbestos, the asbestos inspector will make recommendations for the next measures. They may advise encapsulating the items or altogether removing them from the region.
Asbestos can be dangerous, but proper and professional handling will solve the problem relatively easily.