Asbestos is something most of us have heard about either on television, radio, or discussed with another person. You may know it as some sort of substance in the air that is very dangerous to your health. If you are reading this it is probably because you want a more definite answer to one question. That is, “What is asbestos?” This is one very important question you can ask yourself in relation to your physical health and safety.
So, what is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber used as insulation. It’s primarily made of fibers produced from glass, rock, and slag. Although the negative health effects of asbestos are extreme, it is so tiny that it can only be seen under a special kind of microscope. Many manufacturing companies used asbestos for building products and insulation material in the past, but most manufactured goods do not contain asbestos today. For health and safety purposes today, every product must be labeled indicating when it contains asbestos.
What is asbestos purpose in our products?
The few manufacturers who still use asbestos, and those who have in the past, added it to products because of its fiber durability. The most common reasons for adding asbestos to goods is to make them fire resistant and insulate heat. Manufacturers used asbestos in ceiling and floor tiles, cement products, paper products, and many other materials for those purposes. Asbestos is typically found in products around the home and workplace.
How is asbestos a hazard to our health and safety?
It is not only important to know what is asbestos, but it is just as important to understand how it is hazardous to our health and safety. Asbestos does not actually become dangerous until materials are damaged or some type of repair work is done to disturb it. So when a product experiences remodeling, demolition, or any activity that involves it being destroyed or broken down, the asbestos fibers are released into the air. Inhaling these fibers can cause serious health problems including lung cancer.
What if I have health and safety concerns about asbestos in my home?
If you think asbestos is in your home there are a few things you can do. If you are sure or believe asbestos has been used for products in your home, and they have not been destroyed, you can leave the material alone. If you want to find out if it is present in your home you can hire a professional for an inspection. If damaged asbestos materials are in your home stay away from the area and immediately contact a professional for consultation. Many times it’s not necessary to demolish or remove the material, but instead an asbestos profession will need to make repairs through encapsulation.
If you are concerned about the health and safety of your home there are accredited laboratories for testing. Call The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) for laboratory testing at (310) 975-4016. A professional will let you know if asbestos removal is necessary.
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