The Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos was identified as a dangerous building material decades ago after regular and widespread use. What was once a common element in many buildings is now being removed and replaced, as an asbestos contractor, such as Nielsen Environmental, can explain. Why is asbestos so dangerous, and how is it identified? Learn more about this now outdated building component.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos was manufactured using an array of natural minerals that are woven together. At its core is a fibrous silicate substance that is then added to fabrics to make it easier to use in common applications. Many currently used products still use asbestos at a much lower composite than what was previously used (fewer than 1 percent).

Why Is Asbestos Used?

Because of the nature of the materials in asbestos, it makes an excellent insulator against heat. The fact that it was able to tolerate excessive heat made it commonly used in homes and businesses around the country for fireproofing, especially in:

  • Ceilings
  • Furnaces
  • Pipes
  • Drywall
  • Flooring
  • Roofing

What Are the Dangers?

Over time, people who were exposed to high levels of asbestos started developing respiratory issues. The fibrous silicate material was easily inhaled and would become lodged in the lungs. These fibers would remain in the body, causing scarring and inflammation wherever it settled. People who had been exposed to asbestos started developing a deadly and rare cancer called mesothelioma. Asbestos is the only trigger identified to cause this type of aggressive cancer. Other forms of lung disease and cancer are also caused by asbestos.

How Is Asbestos Identified?

Asbestos is mainly found in structures constructed before 1980. If there is a suspicion that asbestos may be present, extreme caution should be taken. If the encasement is broken, the fibrous material is released and can be inhaled if no safety measures are being adhered to. Asbestos is usually found in attics, garages, fireplaces, around windows and pipes. Since asbestos was used as a component in building materials, it is not easily identified and usually needs confirmation through specialized testing. Removing any original materials in buildings built before 1980 may result in the release of asbestos minerals and put anyone in the area at risk. Floor tiles, drywall and attic insulation were all filled with asbestos during this time. If there is a suspicion that asbestos exists in lethal quantities in a home or business, a professional test should be conducted before starting work.

People become very ill after asbestos exposure. When this happens, long term care may become necessary. An asbestos removal contractor can quickly identify and dispose of the material.