In this comprehensive post, we'll go over;
Everything you need to know about Asbestos.
- The different types of asbestos,
- Where it can still be found,
- And what to do if you have it in your home!
So if you're concerned about asbestos in your home, you'll everything you need to know here!
Taking a Deep Dive...Into Asbestos?
Asbestos is bad, we have all heard that at some point or another. We hear the commercials about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. But how much do we really know about this cancer and illness-causing asbestos?
Continue reading to take a deep dive into asbestos (It’s safe, I promise).
The 6 Types of Asbestos
Like many other materials found in mother nature, asbestos consists of 6 different types. Each is slightly different in color and shape of their fibers.
The 6 types are also broken into 2 different categories: serpentine and amphibole.
Amphibole Types of Asbestos
(fibers have a needle-like appearance
and are short and straight)
Actinolite Asbestos: Tends to be dark brown in color with needle-like fibers that can be sharp. Since asbestos is a mineral, it can also include other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, and iron. While this type of asbestos is rare, it was previously used in cement, paint, sealants, insulation, and drywall.
Amosite Asbestos: Also known as “brown asbestos” due to its color, these fibers tend to be like brittle needles. This type of asbestos was mostly used in construction materials as well as for fireproofing due to being so heat resistant. Amosite asbestos fibers have been previously found in various types of insulation materials, gaskets, roofing materials, and tiles.
Anthophyllite Asbestos: Can be brown or yellow in color with fibers that are long and needle-like. This type of asbestos often contains magnesium and iron. Being one of the rarest types of asbestos it was not commonly used for production. However, on some rare occasions, the fibers were found in cement and insulation.
Crocidolite Asbestos: Can be called “blue asbestos” due to its coloration. These fibers can be very small and fine making them sharp yet brittle. Since the fibers are so small, it makes it easier to be inhaled. Crocidolite asbestos was found to not be as heat resistant as the other types of asbestos and was not commonly used unless it was in cement, tiles, or asbestos insulation.
Tremolite Asbestos: Color variants can range from a milky white color to a dark green. These fibers are usually sharp and straight and contain mostly magnesium. Tremolite asbestos was not normally used within products, and often was a contaminant within talc and vermiculite deposits. These fibers have been found within paint, sealants, building materials, and talc-based products.
Serpentine Type of Asbestos
(pliable, flexible fibers that are long and curly)
Chrysotile Asbestos: The only type of asbestos in the serpentine category, this can also be called ”white asbestos”. These fibers are long and curly and tend to wrap around themselves. Chrysotile asbestos is the most common and up to 95% of the asbestos found in buildings is this type of asbestos.
Due to the flexible natures of these fibers, it was used in fabric to create fire-resistant clothing. Additionally, it could be found in cement, car brakes, rubber, asphalt, and many other materials.
Even though asbestos is no longer mined in the United States, it is still found in older products and buildings. Many buildings built prior to 1980 have asbestos materials whether it be in the tiles, building materials, or some sort of asbestos insulation (electrical, plumbing, walls).
The dangers of asbestos are predominant and should be handled with care. The risk of asbestos is determined by friability. If asbestos is friable, it means that it can easily be broken or crushed by hand.
This means the fibers can be released in the air easier, allowing for a higher chance of inhalation. Non-friable asbestos means it is not going to crumble or turn into dust. Usually, it will turn into dust when being cut or disturbed in some sort of way.
If asbestos materials can be left undamaged, or sealed, the risk of health issues are much less. If the asbestos can break apart easily, call the professionals at Rock Emergency immediately!
Where Can Asbestos be Found?
As stated above, the different types of asbestos have been found in various products and materials. But why?
When asbestos was discovered, it was determined that it was strong, anticorrosive, and had fire-resistant properties. Below, you will see a list of common uses for asbestos and why it can still affect us today. You might be surprised!
Asbestos Cement (Transite)
Transite, or asbestos cement, is a mixture of cement and the chrysotile fibers (white asbestos). While this is no longer manufactured, it was widely used during the mid-1900s.
It was found to be easy to make and handle, and was strong, and had anticorrosive properties. Additionally, when used in pipes, it created low friction which eventually led to savings in operating costs. Different types of cement were created for many different uses.
Some include bonding cement, insulating cement, masonry cement, cement pipes, among many others. Some of these products were in production until the early ’90s.
The life of asbestos cement can be upwards of 70 years before it starts to deteriorate. Many products that are older are likely starting to break down and be a cause for concern.
From mid-1860 through the late 1970s, asbestos insulation was used in homes for attic insulation and also around pipes to prevent freezing. Many older homes still today will have some sort of asbestos insulation.
It was used mostly because it was known to be fire-resistant, and was a cost-effective solution to insulating. It can still be found in asbestos spray insulation, pipe insulation, older wicking materials, asbestos sheets, and more.
Asbestos Bonders, Sealers and Adhesives
Again, because of the durable nature of asbestos, it was added into many of the bonding, sealing, and adhesive products for about 100 years. Up until the 1980s, it was added to materials used for caulking, putty, mortar, spackle, and even tape.
It has since been replaced with alternatives like silicone, but it can be found in a majority of older homes and commercial buildings. With it being so durable, it will continue to be there until a renovation occurs. At that point, it will become dangerous and will require professional assistance to remove it.
Asbestos Fireproofing Materials
Fireproof and fire-resistant asbestos products are still manufactured today (within very tight constraints). Many items we may never think about could contain asbestos materials.
For example, fireproof blankets, fire doors, bricks for a fireplace, asbestos cloth and boards, and many clothing types for firefighters. While some of these items are no longer made with asbestos, they can still be found in others and can still be made in accordance with the EPA.
Asbestos in Cosmetics
This might sound crazy, like why would someone put a toxic mineral into something that goes on your face. The fact is, asbestos and talc (common ingredients in cosmetics) are naturally occurring minerals that can be found together.
Back in 2019, Johnson & Johnson had to recall baby powder due to the talcum being contaminated with asbestos. So while it could be found in trace amounts in makeup products like powder foundation, eyeshadow, or blush, the addition is not on purpose.
Asbestos in Construction Materials
Possibly one of the most dangerous ways that asbestos was used, asbestos in construction materials is still found today in many homes and buildings. Since the products were used up until the 1970s, it is very likely that if your home is older than that, there is asbestos.
Those who renovate older homes are at a higher risk of exposure, as are those who live there if there is damage to any of the asbestos-containing materials.
Many of the products used for roofing, flooring, and ductwork contain asbestos materials. Other materials include siding, flashing, wall panels, stucco, electrical boards, and popcorn ceiling covering.
If you are planning a renovation project, it is highly recommended for an asbestos test and possible asbestos remediation by a licensed trained professional like Rock Emergency
What do I do Now?
Now that you know more about the 6 different types of asbestos, and where you can still find it today, what do you do? Leave it alone, mostly.
If you know you have asbestos in your home, leave it alone! If it is not damaged in any way that causes dust or small pieces of asbestos to move around freely within the home, leave it.
However, if you are planning any kind of renovation and you know there may be asbestos in the home, the safest thing you can do for you and your family is to have Rock Emergency come in to contain the asbestos materials.
All of our professionals are HAZWOPER trained and IICRC certified and follow all EPA and OSHA regulations. Don’t put your family at risk, let us do the work!
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