Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring, fibrous minerals that have been mined and used since at least 2,500 BC. To ancient people, the fire resistant properties of asbestos seemed magical, and one of the primary modern uses of asbestos continues to be as a flame retardant. Additionally, the fibrous nature of asbestos made it an effective insulating material as well as lending strength to building materials such as cement.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the chief risk of asbestos exposure is found in the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Materials containing asbestos fibers can release those fibers over time, especially when damaged. These fibers are extremely small, and can easily be inhaled and make their way into the lungs, where they can cause a variety of dangerous conditions, most notably (but not limited to) mesothelioma.
The deleterious health effects of asbestos were noticed as early as Roman times, but the true danger of asbestos wasn’t fully appreciated until the middle of the 20th century. Unfortunately, by then the amazing properties of asbestos, combined with the relative ease and low cost with which it could be mined and used made asbestos an ubiquitous material in buildings and consumer goods.
Beginning in the 1970s, Congress and various regulatory agencies such as the EPA, the CPSC, and OSHA passed a series of laws and regulations designed to curtail the use of asbestos in America, but asbestos is not fully banned, and continues to be used in a variety of products in the United States. Additionally, these rules do not necessarily require the removal of existing asbestos materials in buildings. This means that in many buildings, especially those built before 1977, asbestos may be present in the construction materials, and thus may still continue to exist within the structure.
According to the CPSC, the following areas are the most common places asbestos may be located in in residential and commercial buildings: shingles and roofing tiles, insulation, textured compounds and wall and ceilings (such as popcorn and knockdown textures), drywall and drywall joint compounds, vinyl floor tiles and vinyl sheet flooring, around hot water heaters and pipes, and the walls and floors around wood-burning stoves.
The average person is not equipped to identify or safely remove asbestos in their home or business. Asbestos cannot be identified by the use of an unaided eye or a regular microscope. The only way to positively identify asbestos is through the use of special techniques, most notably Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) or Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Additionally, asbestos is most dangerous when disturbed or damaged, which releases the fibers and lofts them into the air, where they can be inhaled. For these reasons, asbestos identification and removal is best left to certified, licensed, and trained professionals.
If you suspect your home or business is contaminated with asbestos, the safest course of action is to leave it alone! However, in some cases, this cannot be avoided. When a house containing asbestos building materials is damaged by an earthquake, fire, flooding, or other accidents, or when a renovation or remodel is planned, asbestos removal becomes necessary. Asbestos abatement requires the services of properly-trained professionals.
Superior Abatement Services is southern California’s leader in asbestos removal, with over 100 years of combined experience in asbestos abatement. We serve all of the San Diego area, as well Orange County, Palm Springs, and the Imperial Valley. We work with many top insurance companies and contractors to ensure that asbestos removal is completed promptly in a cost-effective manner to the customer’s complete satisfaction.
Remember, the longer you allow toxic substances to exist on your property, the longer you are exposed to them, and the greater your chances for negative health effects. If you need asbestos, mold, or lead-based paint cleaned up and removed from your property, call Superior Abatement Services Inc. today!