Asbestos in Materials Today

It may be surprising to hear that asbestos is still used in some products today. Most types of asbestos have been banned since the 1970’s due to the potential connection to mesothelioma. However, one type of asbestos fiber, chrysotile, has been approved for use in some materials. In insulation and appliances, the fibers resist both heat and cold very effectively. Vinyl floor tiles are strengthened by chrysotile against damage such as scuffing and moisture.

While inhaling asbestos poses serious risks to one’s health, chrysotile fibers are generally considered the least dangerous type of asbestos. Research has shown that the fibers are harmless unless disturbed and released in significant quantities into the air. In addition, when these materials are manufactured, the fibers are sealed into the matrix of the material itself, which prevents chrysotile fibers from being released. Provided that the materials remain undisturbed and are not crumbling, there is no significant risk of exposure.

The EPA has very helpful information about asbestos removal do’s and don’ts. People considering asbestos disposal should consult a professional. Do not sand or tear such materials, as this can release the asbestos fibers. If it is suspected, after the fact, that asbestos containing materials have been disturbed, wet the material to prevent further dispersion of fibers. The EPA also advises not to use a household vacuum or broom to remove dust, as these will likely launch the fibers into the air. Trained professionals will use a special vacuum with a HEPA filter designed specially for this type of situation. If surfaces must be cleaned, use wet mops and sponges. A fine mist of water sprayed into the air may help settle dust as well.

Mesothelioma prevention starts with avoiding exposure. Whether remodeling a home built in the 1950’s — prior to asbestos bans — or handling more recent asbestos-containing materials, asbestos disposal professionals can be of great help. An asbestos abatement professional can assess the risk and recommend a method for handling materials and asbestos abatement. They will also have access to the proper equipment and materials necessary to protect people who might otherwise be exposed. Before working with contractors, making inquiries regarding experience levels and training with asbestos can help determine which contractor will take the necessary precautions.

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, our Mesothelioma FAQ may be of assistance to you.

 

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