What is Asbestos?
You may be surprised to learn that asbestos is an entirely natural mineral. It has been used for thousands of years by humans. There are mineral deposits of asbestos throughout the world, and mining of the substance continues to this day, despite its known effects of health.
The mineral is made up of thin fibers, which can be made into a fluffy texture. Asbestos is very flexible and is known for its heat resistance and insulation qualities. In the 19th century, large-scale mining of the substance exploded throughout the world, and asbestos was used in buildings, textiles, and many other products.
Scientists knew of the health risks of asbestos in the 1930s, but it would take until the 1970s before it would begin being phased out. To this day, the United States has not banned the use of asbestos.
Diseases Caused by Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos causes lung problems. The thin fibers can stay afloat in air and, when breathed in, can stay in the lungs for extended periods, causing damage and inflammation. Depending on the level of exposure, it can take years before a chronic disease becomes apparent.
Asbestosis is a non-cancerous lung disease caused by asbestos. The fibers irritate the lining of the lungs and cause scarring. This causes shortness of breath and other respiratory issues. It is a chronic disease with no cure. You can learn more by visiting the American Lung Association website.
Asbestos is also known for causing various forms of cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cause of asbestos-related death. Workers who mined, manufactured, or commonly used asbestos on the job have a higher risk of lung cancer than the general population. The symptoms of lung cancer are chest pains, shortness of breath, and coughing.
You may be aware of the various mesothelioma lawsuits related to asbestos. This form of cancer is almost always directly related to asbestos exposure. It is a cancer of the membrane linings of the lungs.
Symptoms include fatigue, wheezing, shortness of breath, and dry coughing. It is not easy to detect when only in stage 1 or 2. You can learn more about Mesothelioma at the American Cancer Society’s website.
How Do I Know if There is Asbestos in my Home?
Now that you understand a little bit more about what asbestos is, you’re probably wondering if you’re at risk. While most new homes will refrain from using asbestos, homes built before the 1970s could have asbestos.
Asbestos was commonly used in floor and ceiling tiles, shingles, and insulation. It is difficult for a non-professional to deduce which building materials are made with asbestos. You should not attempt to take samples of any materials in your home potentially made of asbestos. The fibers are only dangerous when breathed in, and any drilling or agitation can contaminate your air.
If you do have suspicions, the best solution is to have a professional take a look. This is particularly vital if you are doing any remodeling or doing anything in your house that could cause asbestos to contaminate the air in your home.
If you have any suspicions of asbestos in your home, follow these tips to avoid exposure.
Don’t touch intact asbestos materials.
Try to avoid damaging any asbestos in your home, as this is what causes the fibers to become airborne.
Don’t sweep any debris that may have asbestos
Avoid sanding or brushing materials that contain asbestos.
If you have an older home in the greater Seattle area, you may need asbestos removal. Call AWR Restoration & Cleaning at (206) 823-2252 or fill out an online contact form, and we’ll take care of it for you.