Well, the fuss with asbestos all comes down to health risks. Some of the potential outcomes are very serious – lung cancer, mesothelioma (i.e., cancer of the lining of the chest cavity), and asbestosis (a pulmonary obstructive disease that eventually puts such a strain on the lungs and heart, that the patient dies from cardiac arrest). The primary route of entry for these extremely small asbestos fibers is inhalation. Theoretically, these diseases can be caused by one exposure episode. However, the greater the dose, the greater the disease. And, finally, the diseases do not show up for ten to thirty years after the exposure. That is a very long latency period.
There are many misconceptions about asbestos. First of all, it is not just the ship workers who were exposed to it during World War II. Second, one does not have to be in a dusty asbestos cloud to experience an exposure resulting in disease. And, finally, it has not been banned from all materials in the United States. It has been banned in five to seven materials and it is still found in building materials being imported today. It is not always listed on the material, sometimes a label states that a product is non-asbestos when it is not, and sometimes it is labeled as asbestos free, but chrysotile (the most common type) is listed on the ingredients).
The mining of asbestos and manufacture of asbestos containing building materials represents potential exposure to the personnel involved. And sometimes, the workers bring the fibers home on clothing and shoes to their families. This reportedly occurred in Libby, Montana where asbestos was mined (www.pbs.org/pov/libbymontana).
So, which materials can contain asbestos? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) has a list of building materials suspected of containing asbestos. It virtually includes everything except glass, metal, and wood. Asbestos was added to thousands of materials due to its fire resistance, added strength, and chemical resistance. It is a relatively inexpensive naturally occurring mineral which was added to nearly all building materials, plus brake linings, concrete, cement drinking water pipes, and gaskets. It was used for fireproofing in schools, hospitals, airports, nursing homes, and other public and private installations and facilities.
Finally, workers who install, remove, or demolish it in buildings are at risk. That is why EPA requires testing for asbestos before all renovations and demolitions of most buildings before the work is started. If asbestos is present, certain abatement procedures will be required before the construction or demolition work begins.
But there is no reason to fuss. Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. (www.escflorida.com) can help. We have the credentials and experience to properly complete your Asbestos Survey. We have accredited Asbestos Surveyors and a Florida Licensed Asbestos Consultant (LAC) on staff. We are a Florida-licensed Asbestos Business Organization with over thirty years of experience in the asbestos field. We prepare abatement specifications, monitor abatement projects, and complete air clearance monitoring. Whatever your asbestos needs are, just call us (800-226-1735 or one of our area office local numbers listed on our home page) or e-mail us ([email protected]). Contact us today and get rid of the fuss!