When it became evident that regular exposure to asbestos on the job involved health risks, the public became more concerned about exposure to asbestos in offices and schools, and, eventually, about all asbestos products. This concern has led to a dramatic decline in asbestos use since the early 1980s. The use of asbestos insulation in buildings and heating systems has virtually disappeared. Residential use, for roofing, flooring and appliances, continues to decrease.
Asbestos is a natural mineral with unusual qualities. It is strong enough to resist high temperatures, chemical attack and wear. A poor conductor, it insulates well against heat and electricity. Asbestos crystals become long, flexible, silky fibres, so it can be made into a wide variety of forms. It can be spun into yarn, woven into cloth or braided into rope. Asbestos can also be added to materials as diverse as cotton and cement.
Most homes that have asbestos have had vermiculite insulation added to their attic. Vermiculite can be purchased in various forms for various uses. Sizes of vermiculite products range from very fine particles to large (coarse) pieces nearly an inch long. Vermiculite attic insulation is a pebble-like, pour-in product and is usually light-brown or gold in color
Asbestos can cause health problems when inhaled into the lungs. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, thin, lightweight asbestos fibers are released into the air. Persons breathing the air may breathe in asbestos fibers. Continued exposure increases the amount of fibers that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may result in lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Smoking increases your risk of developing illness from asbestos exposure.
Taking samples yourself is not recommended. Some firms offer combinations of testing, assessment, and correction. A professional hired to assess the need for corrective action should not be connected with an asbestos-correction firm. It is better to use two different firms so there is no conflict of interest. Services vary from one area to another around the country. If you nevertheless choose to take the samples yourself, take care not to release asbestos fibers into the air or onto yourself. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled.
Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers are inhaled over a long time period. People who become ill from inhaling asbestos are often those who are exposed on a day-to-day basis in a job where they worked directly with the material. As a person’s exposure to fibers increases, because of being exposed to higher concentrations of fibers and/or by being exposed for a longer time, then that person’s risk of disease also increases. Disease is very unlikely to result from a single, high-level exposure, or from a short period of exposure to lower levels.
The Barrie Home Inspector has been trained to identify and inspect asbestos in the home. Hiring a professional home inspector can protect you and potentially save you from thousands of dollars in asbestos removal expenses. Many people may cover insulation like vermiculite with a blown insulating product which makes visual detection impossible without actually entering attic and moving existing insulation. Using the Barrie Home Inspector will provide Peace of Mind when purchasing your next property.