Did you know 125 million people worldwide are affected by asbestos at work? Of the people who suffer from work-related cancer, half of them are caused by asbestos. Since the 1980s asbestos was used a lot as an insulation material. True, it is an effective insulator but it is also an effective cause of lung disease and cancer.
Will you find it in your home? It is not enough to just visually inspect. You need to know what you are looking for. Here is what you need to know.
It is a fibrous material that has a high tensile strength. It is a poor heat conductor hence its use as an insulator. It is hardwearing and resistant to many chemicals. About 40 years ago, these qualities seemed to make it an ideal material for insulating pipes and heaters.
It can be found around ducts, pipes, boilers, and fireplaces. Although these places are easy enough to check it is not always easy to tell whether what you are looking at is asbestos or not.
In order to determine whether the fibrous substance you have found in your home is asbestos or not, you need to get it tested. It is not enough to just look at it.
You need to use microscopy to view aspects of the substance that cannot be seen with the naked eye alone. There are two types of microscopy approved for asbestos in homes, Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM).
You can find a list of approved laboratories from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).
If you think you have asbestos in the home and you want to send some to a laboratory for testing you will, of course, have to take a sample. While taking a sample there is a risk you could be exposed to the harmful fibers.
If you want to avoid this risk, then the best thing to do is to call in a professional who will take a tiny sample for you and make sure it is accurately tested. This will be better for you and your family.
Another professional you may want to think about is a lawyer. If you find asbestos in your home, or worse still you suspect you or a member of the family has been exposed to the asbestos you may want to seek legal help.
Whatever happens, don’t panic. Asbestos in homes has long been a problem and that means that the industry has responded with professional and expert help designed to identify and remove asbestos safely.
The most important thing with matters like this is to be well informed first.