Home Renovations And The Dangers Of Asbestos Exposure
Before the mid-1980s, building materials containing asbestos fibres were commonly used in housing projects. From water drainage and flue pipes to bonded asbestos cement, from roofing shingles to vinyl sheet floor coverings, asbestos was present everywhere. Even though its use went on a decline later, houses built or renovated before the 1980s is still likely to contain asbestos in different forms.
This scourge of exposure to asbestos has always been about asbestos materials giving of microscopic fibres when disturbed. This can happen if you are renovating your home and there is some type of tearing, cutting, scraping or sanding is involved.
Due to the health risks associated with this substance, it’s crucial that you have your home tested for asbestos before renovating.
Why test for asbestos before renovating?
Asbestos was once widely used since they worked as a strengthener fire and heat production. However, most people were not aware of the perils involved in inhaling the fibres coming from asbestos until some major cases of asbestosis were reported.
Inhaling these fibres can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and few other conditions that are life threatening.
These diseases were responsible for causing the deaths of tens of thousands of workers who were exposed to asbestos throughout their careers in the 20th century. Even today, professional contractors and employees working on renovating and remodeling of homes put themselves at the risk of asbestos exposure.
Dangers of Asbestos
DIY home remodel jobs are especially risky as homeowners are likely to expose themselves to asbestos because they’re unaware where the substance may be present. So, when they damage or disturb materials containing asbestos, it will release asbestos fibres, when inhaled would likely cause fatal diseases.
Some facts related to the dangers of asbestos exposure are the following:
- There is no such thing as “safe level” to asbestos fibre exposure
- Breathing in the asbestos dust and fibres can cause diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and pleural thickening
- The risk of contracting diseases related to asbestos increases with the number of fibres inhaled, and for the number of years one has been exposed
- Mesothelioma is an incurable disease that mostly occurs in the lining of the lung
- Those who smoke are at high risk of having lung cancer if they have inhaled asbestos fibres
- Symptoms of diseases caused by asbestos exposure can take as much as 20 to 30 years to appear for the first time
- The average duration of asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma is 45 years
As you can understand, most diseases caused by inhaling asbestos fibres do not become apparent for at least 10 years after the first time the person was exposed. This is the prime reason why you must do a thorough asbestos test of your home before renovation and remodeling. For more info check here
Asbestos removal tips
We wouldn’t advise attempting to remove substances containing asbestos if you’re not a trained professional. However, if you feel confident handling asbestos, remember to wear safety gear whenever handling the material. The tips below were provided by the team from Pro Asbestos Removal Sydney who provide domestic asbestos removalists throughout New South Wales. If you need assistance or have questions regarding asbestos in your home, contact them for free advice.
- Do not make use of power tools
- Do not use abrasive cutting or sanding discs
- Do not use hoses having high pressure
- Do not use compressed air
- Do not walk on cement roofs made of corrugated asbestos as there is a risk of falling through the roof
- Never leave asbestos products lying around in places where they may get crushed a broken
- If you’re unsure if a substance contains asbestos, get it tested from n NATA-accredited laboratory
- When working with asbestos, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area
- Make sure that the asbestos material is kept wet to reduce the chances of fiber and dust release
We recommend that you do not attempt to remove loosely bound asbestos and let a licensed technician handle the task. Since loose asbestos carries a far greater risk of affecting one’s health than firmly-bound asbestos, obtain extreme precaution while handling them.
Removing asbestos is only half the problem; the health risks associated with packaging, transport, and disposal of materials are also something you should not ignore. In regards to cleaning up asbestos, we’ve got the following tips for you:
- Double wrap and tape asbestos cement material while still in work area and clearly label it as “asbestos waste.”
- While stacking sheets, remember not to skid one sheet over another as it might cause release of asbestos fibres
- Do not leave the sheets lying around where they may be crushed or broken
- Make sure you have no traces of asbestos dust in the work area, your clothing, shoes, tools, etc.
- Get rid of disposable overalls along with the asbestos waste
- Always use an industrial grade vacuum cleaner that comes with appropriate attachments and is fit for this type of work
- Avoid sweeping as it may lead to stirring up of dust and particles that may damage the lining of the lungs
Safe transport and disposal
For safety reasons, it’s crucial that you dispose of all the asbestos waste as soon as possible. To do this, transport all the waste in a leakproof vehicle and one that is fully covered. Never dispose of the asbestos waste in any place other than a licensed landfill site as it is against the law to illegally dump asbestos products.
Again, if you’re unsure about your capacity to safely transport and dispose of this substance, the best choice would be to hire a professional.
How do I manage and asbestos incident?
How an asbestos incident should be handled on its nature and circumstances surrounding the event. If you feel that an asbestos-related event has taken place, you have the option to seek help from several State government agencies. If the incident poses a threat to public health, then get in touch with your local environmental health officer immediately!
If the event involves transport or disposal of asbestos, refer to the Environmental Protection Authority. The key takeaway here is that one should never try to remove asbestos from their homes themselves without the help of the appropriately trained authorities. This substance is deadly, and not something you’d want to be messing around with.