Did you know that about fifteen thousand people die in the United States every year of asbestos poisoning? It’s not only workers in shipyards, power plants and construction sites that are affected by this harmful fibre. You can be affected by this, too.
If you live in a house built before 1980, you probably have asbestos in your home. Back then, asbestos was used to make pipe cement, roof shingles, roof flashing, roof siding, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, a ceiling made of vermiculite, insulation around sheeting, boilers, ducts, pipes, and between pieces of sheetrock.
Unfortunately, some homes built after 1980 may also contain asbestos. But don’t worry, though. Asbestos can be removed, and there is a way for you to not be affected by it.
Read on to get a full picture of what asbestos is, and how you can remove it from your house completely.
What is Asbestos?
Before we get into the details, let’s understand what asbestos really is.
Asbestos is a natural mineral found in metamorphic rocks. Originally, this mineral was considered useful for construction of infrastructure. However, after a series of deaths, it is now considered a deadly poison.
Inhaling asbestos fibres, even one percent of it, can lead to serious lung diseases, including cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Despite the danger it imposes, the asbestos manufacturers have somehow found a way to still sell this dangerous mineral.
The common symptoms of people being affected by asbestos fibres are loss of appetite, shortness of breath, dry cough, tight chest, chest pain, inflamed fingertips, and deformed nails.
It appears that we must take drastic measures to stay away from this mineral, and encourage prevention of its use as well.
How People can Get Exposed to Asbestos
In order to be safe, we must know exactly how asbestos can contaminate the air, and get inside our lungs to cause damage. People can get exposed to asbestos in pretty unexpected ways. Let’s take a look at how that happens.
You can be exposed to asbestos fibre if you have to work with asbestos products, if you come into direct contact with asbestos dust in your clothes, if you eat or drink asbestos contaminated items, breathe the saliva of contaminated patients, breathe and eat anything in a contaminated area.
Because asbestos exposure is lethal, only trained professionals are allowed to remove asbestos from buildings and sites. They have to wear protective suits with masks to prevent inhaling or touching the toxic fibre.
How to Identify Asbestos in Your Home
To be honest, it is not possible to recognize asbestos, hence why professional guidance is needed. Generally, asbestos fibre starts to fly around in the air when the object it is attached to is moved or displaced.
You may cause the fibres to get disturbed if you are remodelling your house, or your house has old, damaged materials. By no means though should you try to clean the asbestos by yourself. Only accredited experts can work with this sensitive substance, as even a little disturbance can release these fibres into the air.
You may even have asbestos stuck to old materials in the house, but don’t be afraid. The asbestos fibre won’t pose a threat until and unless the material has been torn, scraped, removed improperly, sawed, cut, drilled or rubbed. Materials can also be damaged by water and air.
So, if you notice any of these signs, call for help immediately. Usually, the professionals carry out the asbestos test to identify the presence of asbestos in your house.
How to Safely Remove Asbestos from the Home
Removing asbestos may not be as easy as you might think. We don’t recommend that you personally do this procedure, as you may end up risking your life, your family’s, and your neighbor’s.
You must get in touch with the local asbestos removal authority to get rid of this problem once and for all. It is also illegal for people to remove asbestos on their own.
Keeping that in mind, here is a brief guideline explaining how asbestos is eradicated from homes.
The authority you designate to eliminate asbestos must be in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) covering him or her from head to toe. Even the eyes need to be covered, as asbestos contamination is super dangerous.
The person is not allowed to drink or eat while he or she is removing the mineral. The suit can’t be taken off until everything is done, including clean up.
Preparation of the Area
The area must be prepared for the asbestos removal process. Remove all plants and pets from the vicinity until the process is fully complete.
All furniture, curtains and rugs must be shifted to another place. Furthermore, windows, doors, and air conditioning vents must be covered with plastic sheets to prevent asbestos fibre from spreading to other rooms.
Removal of Asbestos
It is illegal and hazardous to use any tools to power wash the asbestos. Usually, the experts will lightly wet the asbestos sheets to halt them from flying around.
The asbestos sheets are then wrapped in plastic sheets, taped properly, and labelled to ensure that other people know what the content is. It takes time to complete the entire procedure.
Cleaning up is also tricky. Once the asbestos sheets are removed, the area needs to be cleaned up for residue.
Using a normal vacuum cleaner is not recommended. They must use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to get the job done instead.
Sweeping is not allowed. The entire area must be wet with soapy water to prevent asbestos particles from flying around.
The plastic sheets that contain asbestos must be disposed at the right local waste facility where they are accepted. The professional cleaners will dispose of the waste on the same day the area has been cleaned to prevent health risks.
Generally, they will transport the waste in a leak-proof vehicle.
Long Story Short
It is really scary to find out the number of casualties of asbestos contamination. However, due to proper initiatives taken, now it is possible to safely remove asbestos from your properties without getting affected yourself.
When a house is being cleansed of asbestos, the neighbors are warned through big signs around the house being cleaned. Hence, the neighbors must wear protective masks when walking by that house, and keep all their doors and windows closed until the process is complete.
They must not eat or drink anything around that area at all costs.
Finally, we would like to say that hopefully this article shed light on the effects of asbestos. Please share this information with as many people as possible to warn and educate them about this terrifying but interesting substance.