Why is Exposure to Asbestos a Health Hazard?
You are probably familiar with asbestos, but do you know exactly what it is or what makes it so dangerous? Find out more about asbestos and learn how to protect yourself and your family from exposure.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that can be manufactured into strong threads. When first discovered, asbestos was praised for its ability to insulate while remaining flame retardant and nonconductive. Due to these properties, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry during the mid 20th century. Some common applications include attic and wall insulation, vinyl floor tiles, roofing shingles, siding, textured paint, and patching compounds.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos fell out of favor when it was discovered that it causes cancer. Ironically, the danger stems from this material’s incredible durability, which prevents it from breaking down when it enters the body. This is what often leads to cancer and other life-threatening diseases caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
You may have heard of buildings that still contain asbestos, which may worry you. However, undisturbed asbestos is relatively harmless. As long as the material is in good condition and left untouched, it poses no significant health risks.
The danger arises when asbestos is damaged or cut or starts deteriorating with age. Asbestos crumbles easily, and disturbing it sends microscopic fibers into the air, increasing the risk of inhalation.
If asbestos gets into your airway, the tiny fibers may become trapped in the mucus membranes of your nose and throat. The fibers may spread to your lungs or digestive tract, depending on your exposure level. Over time, these foreign bodies lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, heart, and abdomen. It may take years, but inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to severe bronchitis or pneumonia, asbestos pleural disease, asbestosis, mesothelioma, or lung cancer.
How Can I Protect Myself from Asbestos?
You generally can’t tell whether a building material contains asbestos just by looking at it. If you suspect a building material has asbestos, don’t touch it. It’s only necessary to test for asbestos if you’re planning to remodel your home or you need restoration services to recover after a fire or flood. However, incorrectly collecting samples for asbestos testing can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone, so this is not something you should do yourself.
If testing reveals that your home has asbestos, don’t panic. When possible, leave the material alone and avoid spending time near it. However, abatement may be necessary when remodeling, restoring, or making other changes to your home that will disturb the asbestos-containing material.
For reliable asbestos removal services, turn to DKI. Our licensed disaster restoration company has the proper training and equipment to remove asbestos without spreading or tracking it to other areas. We’ll ensure your home is safe and fully restored to its pre-incident condition so you can confidently resume your regular routine. To learn more about our services or request an asbestos removal estimate, please contact us at 844.345.2255.