Asbestos is one of those words that strikes fear into the heart of every homeowner. This naturally occurring mineral substance used to be used in everything from home insulation to window caulking. Asbestos fibers are soft and pliant, but the substance was frequently used in construction because it’s fire-proof and resistant to electricity and chemical corrosion. So far everything about asbestos sounds great, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the public realized all those benefits come with a serious danger. Asbestos is highly toxic, and it’s essential that today’s homeowners know how to protect themselves and their families.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
One of the reasons why no one knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure is because it has a lengthy disease progression. Illnesses related to asbestos can take up to 50 years to develop and start showing symptoms. And because asbestos can be broken down into microscopic fibers that can’t be seen with the naked eye, many people are exposed without realizing. Small amounts of asbestos can’t be smelled, tasted, or seen, but inhaling or swallowing asbestos dust can have serious long-term consequences.
Once asbestos enters the body, it stays there. It doesn’t dissolve or find its own way out. Instead, it becomes trapped. The longer it’s trapped, the more damage it does. The foreign fibers cause scarring, inflammation, and genetic mutations within the body.
What Diseases are Caused by Asbestos?
The type of disease caused by asbestos exposure depends on where the fibers accumulate in the body. In many cases, people breathe in asbestos dust and the fibers become trapped in lung tissue. Asbestosis, pleuritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are all respiratory diseases that restrict a person’s breathing. They can be treated, but there’s also the risk of asbestos causing more serious diseases including lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma, and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Outside of the lungs, asbestos exposure has also been linked to ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer.
Asbestos is the number one cause of occupation cancer in the world, and according to mesothelioomahelp.org, 90,000 people die each year due to asbestos exposure.
What to do if You Suspect There’s Asbestos in Your Home
Asbestos could be lurking in your home without you knowing. It could be in the insulation, paint, plaster, ductwork, and countless other areas. You won’t be able to tell if the ductwork or insulation in your home has asbestos just by looking. You’ll need to contact a professional to retrieve a sample and have it tested. Do not attempt to inspect the item yourself. Disturbing a product made with asbestos only increases your risk of exposure. It’s best to leave the testing to the pros.
If it’s confirmed an area in your home contains asbestos, you have a few options. If the product is completely intact with no breaks, cracks, or tears, and there’s little risk of it being disturbed in the future, your contractor might suggest encapsulation. This means a special paint-like substance is put over the material to seal the asbestos fibers and stop them from escaping into the air.
Encapsulation, however, isn’t always an option. If the product is already damaged, or you plan on remodeling your home, it’s necessary to have it removed. One wrong move could send invisible asbestos dust into the air, and you’ll need a professional asbestos removal company to make sure the job is done safely.
Asbestos removal is the only way to permanently protect your family from asbestos exposure in your home. Choose a company that is certified to properly remove and safely dispose of the toxic material. Contact Complete Property Restoration to request an asbestos abatement consultation in Lethbridge or the surrounding areas.