What to Know About Asbestos in the Home or Workplace



You’ve probably heard of asbestos before, but maybe you don’t know very much about it. You should probably know at least some of the basics. That’s because asbestos is potentially quite dangerous.

Builders commonly used asbestos for many years. At that point, they didn’t know the risks. Now, medical science knows what it can do, which is why if there’s asbestos in your home or workplace, you need to get rid of it immediately.

Here’s some more asbestos information that it will behoove you to know.

What Exactly is Asbestos?

The reason people want to avoid asbestos is that medical science has linked it conclusively to mesothelioma, a kind of deadly cancer. Asbestos is:

  • Six fibrous silicate materials
  • Found all over the place  

The reason why companies used asbestos for so many years is that it doesn’t collect electricity. That means it’s safer to use as a building material. It’s also sound-resistant as well as fire and heat resistant.

If you look at it in that light, it’s almost like a miracle material. That’s what people thought until they found the mesothelioma link.

That’s how it is sometimes, though. At first, something seems great, and then people discover how dangerous it is. Think about a manufacturer making Coca-Cola with cocaine, or pharmacists selling laudanum in drug stores.

What is Mesothelioma?

As for mesothelioma, it is:

  • An aggressive cancer
  • Known for attacking the lungs, and also sometimes the heart or abdomen

Unfortunately, medical science does not know how to cure mesothelioma. If you contract it, then that’s essentially a death sentence. You’ll sometimes live up to a year after a doctor diagnoses you, but not much more than that.

It’s mostly older men that contract it. You have a better chance of getting it if you’ve been around asbestos for years.

Brief exposure probably won’t give you mesothelioma, but it’s best not to risk it. That’s why it’s critical to check your home and workplace for asbestos since we now know how deadly it can be.

What Can You Do to Check for Asbestos?

If you move into a new home or workplace, checking for asbestos is one of the most vital things you can do. You might Google “what does asbestos look like,” but that’s hardly the best solution.

The truth is that you’re not an expert at identifying asbestos, so you need to call a company that is. Many such businesses exist. In fact, you have to contact one, because in most states, it’s illegal to handle or remove asbestos yourself if you find any.

That’s because you don’t know how to handle it properly. As you’re removing it, the particles can get in the air, and you can breathe them in. That’s what causes mesothelioma: ingesting particles through the lungs.

When you call in a removal company, you’ll notice that they wear masks when taking any asbestos they discover. Unfortunately, these removal companies often cost a lot, but this is something that you have to do.

Where Might the Asbestos Be?

In your home or workplace, the most likely places to find asbestos will be:

  • Old floor tiles
  • Siding
  • Insulation, especially around pipes, ducts, and vents

The reality is that this stuff was so popular before 1980 that it’s all over the place. That’s a scary thought, but at least we know about it now, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much if you encounter some. There are experts who can remove it quickly and easily.

How Do Companies Detect It?

Even the companies you bring in don’t just look at a wall or ductwork and decide whether something is asbestos or not. They use a couple of different methods to be sure.

They call the first method polarized light microscopy or PLM. Transmission electron microscopy, or TEM, is the second method.

In both cases, they carefully collect samples and send them to a lab. If the lab test comes back positive, they start to remove the asbestos from that area.

If you do a test before moving into a house or renting a building, you can often get the seller or real estate agent to pay for the removal. Once the company finds the asbestos, the law requires the building owner to get rid of it.

If you already own a house or work in a building, and you know that you haven’t checked for asbestos there yet, then it’s you who will probably have to pay to remove it.

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