What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring, fibrous silicate minerals mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. Asbestos is commonly used as an acoustic insulator, and in thermal insulation, fire proofing and other building materials. Many products in use today contain asbestos.
Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when asbestos- containing materials are damaged or disturbed. When these fibers get into the air they may be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems.
Identifying and Handling Other Types of Asbestos in the Home
The building industry uses, or has used, thousands of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) such as roofing and siding, fire protection material, residential building materials, heating and electrical wire insulation, appliance components, sheet flooring, ceiling and floor tile, caulk, and drywall. As late as 1989, the use of asbestos products in the U.S. exceeded 55,000 tons per year.
Asbestos in the materials used in new construction is almost always chrysotile asbestos and is not related to the Grace Mine. With the exception of the contaminated vermiculite discussed above, the biggest asbestos health threat in homes is from older ACMs, such as pipe wrap and furnace insulation, ceiling tiles, ceiling and wall texture, fireproofing, and wallboard. These materials are easily flaked (friable) and can be damaged, allowing asbestos fibers to be released. Other ACMs that are less friable and present a smaller hazard are floor tiles, linoleum, asphalt roofing, and cement asbestos siding.
If ACMs in your home are in good shape and are not in danger of being damaged, it may be best to just leave them alone. Damaged or easily friable ACMs should be handled with care and repaired or removed by professionals.
Alpha Check Inspections can refer you to several local Testing and Abatement Companies.
Additional info on asbestos:
– Asbestos in the Home – A Homeowner’s Guide (Author: EPA)
– Asbestos in Your Home (Authors: EPA, American Lung Association, Consumer Product Safety Commission)