Asbestos has been a popular mineral used in the production of building materials since the 1940s. Its favorable technical properties make it a go-to solution for producing a range of products. From roof shingles to popcorn ceilings, drywall and cement sheets, plumbing fixtures, vinyl floor tiles, to mention a few. Some chemical and physical properties that make it stand out include:
- Resistance to heat and corrosion, having a melting point of more than 1200 C
- Resistance to bases and acids
- High tensile strength and elasticity
- High resistance to aging
Despite its outstanding properties, studies show it’s incredibly hazardous to our health, as it causes health problems like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. These findings prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to ban its use and production, processing, and distribution of asbestos-containing materials in 1989.
However, many buildings built in the 80s still contain this dangerous chemical hence the need for asbestos removal. Typically if asbestos-containing structures aren’t damaged, it’s best to leave them as is, but if they are breaking off, the chemical becomes airborne, which can be dangerous.
Why Asbestos Should be Removed
Hazardous Health Effects
The main reason asbestos removal is essential is because of its detrimental health effects. In Europe, for example, it has caused up to 500,000 deaths, most of them linked to occupational health workers. Unfortunately, its effects take a long period to manifest, usually many years or decades after prolonged exposure.
Typically asbestos-containing materials aren’t harmful unless they release fibers or dust into the air, which can be inhaled or ingested. Most times, the fibers are trapped in the throat’s mucous membranes and the nose, where they can be exhaled.
However, some of them pass deep into the lungs or are swallowed, getting trapped in the body. Asbestos is most dangerous when it is friable. i.e., when a product is crumbled by hand to release fibers into the air.
That’s why sprayed-on asbestos insulation is friable while asbestos used on floor tiles isn’t. Also, asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, fire doors, cabinet tops can’t release asbestos fibers unless they are damaged or disturbed.
Other factors like water damage, aging, continual vibration, and physical impact like grinding, cutting, buffing, striking, or sawing can break materials making fiber release more likely. Once asbestos fibers enter the body, they can’t be removed or broken down. They are lodged in the lungs, causing diseases such as:
- Lung Cancer
It causes the largest number of deaths associated with asbestos exposure. The most common symptoms include a persistent dry cough with occasional blood in the sputum, breathing problems, anemia, shortness of breath, and chest pains.
People exposed to asbestos for a long time and other carcinogens like cigarette smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than those who’ve been exposed to asbestos only.
It’s a rare form of cancer that affects the thin membrane lining of the chest, abdomen, lungs, and heart. A majority of mesothelioma cases are associated with asbestos exposure, with 10% of workers involved in manufacturing asbestos-containing gas masks and 2% of textile workers and miners working with the chemical contracting the disease.
This is a chronic lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. The disease’s possible symptoms include shortness of breath, lung tissue scarring, a dry crackling sound when breathing, and cardiac failure in advanced stages.
The disease rarely affects people who don’t work with asbestos, e.g., families living in structures with asbestos-containing materials. However, workers renovating or demolishing buildings that contain the chemical may be at significant risk depending on the nature of exposure.
Other Reasons Asbestos Removal is Important
Asbestos is Widely Used in Building Products
Studies show the chemical is used in over 30 million commercial and residential buildings. Buildings with corrugated roofing sheets and flat roofing tiles, for example, have up to 15% of the chemical because asbestos is used to make cement products.
Also, structures that use sprayed asbestos contain up to 85% of the chemical. They include connecting pieces, steel stays, beams, fire protection bulkheads, to mention a few.
Sometimes asbestos removal may be a requirement by the state’s law. For example, if you plan to demolish a property or renovate an old building, you need to perform an asbestos inspection. If the facility contains asbestos, you’d need to clean the contaminated areas before proceeding with the project.
If you’ve discovered some asbestos in your home, it’s essential to look for a trustworthy company to perform the removal work. For a trusted and licensed asbestos removal team in Brisbane, C4 Demolition are able carry out asbestos testing as well as remove any traces of it on your property, as asbestos removal does require the use of special equipment, and only an experienced professional in your area can handle it.