Posts Tagged ‘asbestos abatement’

Overview of Asbestos and Its Uses

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is formed in the earth and removed by mining. It has been used for over 2000 years in a variety of products, most taking advantage of asbestos’ fire-resistant properties. The material has been used in many countries for a variety of purposes. In the United States until the 1970’s, asbestos was commonly used in building materials such as floor tile, insulation, and roofing materials. Use in the US met a seemingly permanent decline in the 1970’s because of research that showed the health risks associated with uses of asbestos. Today, the leading producers of asbestos are Russia and China. The main consumers of asbestos products are China, India, Russia and Thailand.

There are six known types of asbestos which fall into two categories. The amphibole group includes five of the six types: amosite (brown), crocidolite (blue), anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite. The second group (the sepentine group), is a category of one, including only crysotile, or white asbestos. The properties and risks associated with each type depends on the nature of the fiber and how friable the material is. Friability refers to how easily the material can be launched into the air and potentially enter the lungs.

Although asbestos use has diminished greatly since the 1970’s, people the material is found in many structures. That’s because many of the buildings and structures that were made using asbestos materials still stand today. In homes built before the 1970’s, asbestos was used as insulation to help resist fire damage. Asbestos was often added to cement to increase it’s strength, and as a component of insulation boards, fireplace lining, roofing tiles and floor tiles. Applications that were particularly dangerous involved using more naturally friable forms of asbestos in applications that were more easily disturbed, such as in lagging and acoustic wall and ceiling “popcorn.” Because these materials still exist in many homes today, it is important for homeowners to be informed, especially if they plan to remodel or repair their home. In many cases, leaving the material undisturbed is the best course of action unless the remodel or repair is handled by an asbestos abatement expert.

Asbestos was used starting in the 1940’s in shipyards as insulation around pipes. Because of it’s light weight, low cost and resistance to heat and corrosion, the material was considered ideal until research linked the material to incidence of mesothelioma. Sadly, some companies continued to expose workers to these materials, even after the risks were well-known. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, many of these workers did not see health problems until recently. As a result, some people who are being diagnosed with mesothelioma are entitled to legal compensation. For more information on these or other mesothelioma-related topics, please visit our Mesothelioma and Asbestos FAQ or fill out our online form.

 

Asbestos in Materials Today

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

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.

 

Dispose of Asbestos Containing Materials

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance made from one of six silicate minerals, which have now been banned due to their link with many health complications, most notably mesothelioma.

Asbestos use has been traced back at least 4,500 years to Finland for strengthening earthenware pots and cooking utensils. The use of asbestos became commonplace between the turn of the 20th century and the late 1970s in industrial capacities. It was also used in brake pads until the mid-1990s.

There are four methods for asbestos disposal; the EPA suggests all methods should be performed by a properly-licensed asbestos abatement company, and any intact asbestos not be touched. Knowing whether a product contains asbestos is not easy unless it’s properly labeled.

The most dangerous method of asbestos removal is dry stripping.  This involves simply removing the asbestos without any amount of moisture. While a simple method, dry stripping can produce a large amount of dust and may release toxins.

High-pressured water removal is a popular method, using the water to force the asbestos away from the people doing the removal. This method is usually reserved for industrial spaces that are hard to reach.

A technique for home asbestos removal is controlled wet stripping, performed by injecting warm water into asbestos with specialized needles. This effectively weighs down the material, which also helps control the amount of dust released.

Another asbestos-removal method is hot stripping. This technique includes the use of a ventilation system along with hot air. By blowing the asbestos fibers with the hot air, any residue can be directed toward a powerful ventilation system.

However, in some cases asbestos material is not removed, but rather encased.

In many countries, asbestos is typically disposed of as hazardous waste in landfill sites. In the United States, OSHA regulations require a sign stating that the hazardous waste or landfill site contains asbestos.

For more information check out our Mesothelioma articles on the laws and regulations concerning asbestos materials.

 

 

Mesothelioma Factsheet

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is often called “asbestos cancer” since asbestos exposure is typically the cause of it. Though there is treatment available for mesothelioma, there is no cure. Often, when someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they do not have much time left to live.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be seeking more information. Here are some facts about mesothelioma:

  • Mesothelioma attacks the lining of various organs of the body such as the lungs.
  • More than 90% of mesothelioma cases are directly linked to asbestos exposure.
  • When handled improperly, asbestos can enter the lungs or stomach, and once inside, the body is unable to break down asbestos fibers.
  • Asbestos fibers lodged in the mesothelium eventually cause its cells to divide without control or order.
  • Symptoms of mesothelioma can take 10-50 years to show up after asbestos exposure.
  • Common symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath and a lingering cough.
  • Since mesothelioma is so often caused by asbestos exposure, victims and their families may be entitled to compensation for their suffering.

Speaking to an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you decide what steps to take next. Make sure the lawyer you hire has experience handling similar cases. Ask friends or family members for a referral, as positive word-of-mouth can lead you to a great lawyer who will fight for the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

For more information about mesothelioma, speak to a resource person by calling 1-888-370-0121.