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Asbestos Warning: Still a Real and Present Danger

Watch for this hazard if renovating an old house or office building.

Watch for this hazard if renovating an old house or office building.

Dealing with Asbestos Today

by Guest blogger, Kerby Hyde

You don’t see a lot of building products containing asbestos these days, and there’s a pretty good reason why. While its fire-resistant and insulating properties made it a popular component to use in household products a few decades back, plenty of documented cases regarding its harmful effects to human health have been compiled, causing governments to regulate its use. This included getting the construction companies to stop using building materials that contained asbestos, as well.

However, though it is no longer widely used in construction and household products today, the health threats that asbestos carries with it still looms. There are plenty of structures still standing today that were built around the time that materials containing asbestos experienced a boom. Often, residents living in these buildings might not even be aware of this fact.

But how exactly should we deal with asbestos today?

1. Determine if your home is at risk.
It would be very difficult to know by observation whether or not your home or office building is putting you at risk for asbestos exposure. You’d need the suspected material tested at a lab in order to determine that it is asbestos. As a general rule, though, if the office or home building was built pre-1990, then it would most likely have been built of asbestos-containing materials.

2. Know where it can usually be found.
Asbestos was commonly used for materials that provided insulation or needed to be fire-resistant. They can most likely be found in the insulation around heaters, furnaces, the backings of vinyl flooring, and sheeting in roofs and walls, among others.

Asbestos under an electron microscope looks like barbed wire!

Asbestos under an electron microscope looks like barbed wire!

3. Avoid disturbing it.
When you think something contains asbestos, avoid disturbing it as this will just cause microfibers to release itself into the air, where they can be inhaled and cause health problems years down the road.

4. When in doubt, call a professional.
Never attempt to deal with asbestos yourself – call a professional, instead. That professional must have been trained to properly deal with asbestos substances, or might have even completed the HAZWOPER training in order to be able to work with suspected asbestos-containing products and be able to dispose of them properly.

Asbestos Warning

Asbestos is harmful to human health, and exposure to it should best be avoided. We’re fortunate enough that its use is heavily regulated today. Nevertheless, avoid taking care of suspected asbestos-containing materials yourself, and call in the professionals.

Kerby Hyde is Director of Operations at The Asbestos Institute. The Asbestos Institute has been in the Training and Certification Industry for over 26 years, serving as the premier training center in the southwest since 1988. We provide accredited EPA and Cal-OSHA training for asbestos, lead, mold and OSHA Safety.

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