What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral form that readily separates into fibers that are both strong and resistant to heat. Asbestos was used in several construction products in the U.S most popularly from the 1960’s-1978. Properties built at any time in the U.S may, however, contain asbestos from the original build or repairs. It has been discovered that the asbestos fibers present in construction materials that may be breathed in when airborne have been linked with several lung diseases and cancer. Asbestos fibers, when intact and not in our airborne dust, typically do not pose a risk.
Asbestos is commonly used in the following construction materials:
- Drywall joint compound
- Plaster skim coat
- 9”x9” vinyl floor tiles and mastic
- 12”x12” vinyl floor tile and mastic
- Vinyl sheet flooring (Linoleum)
- Acoustical ceiling (Popcorn ceiling)
- Stucco finish coating
- Roofing materials
- Duct insulations and wraps
- Pipe Insulation
- Water heater concrete flue pipes
- Carpet glues
- Ceiling tiles & glues
- Window putty/glazing
- and more…
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos fibers are microscopic and cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Additionally, asbestos exposure does not cause any immediate symptoms, so its possible for people to inhale or swallow asbestos dust without knowing. Asbestos fibers never dissolve once they enter the human body and the body has a very difficult time expelling them. In cases of prolonged exposure, these trapped asbestos fibers can lead to lung inflammation, scarring and genetic damage to cells within the human body.
Since asbestos-related illnesses usually take 20-50 years to develop (Latency Period), most cases diagnosed in the United States today were caused by asbestos exposures that occurred before modern safety regulations were enacted.
Most asbestos-related illnesses are the primary cause of asbestos-related illness, followed by secondhand asbestos exposure. While there is no “safe” amount of asbestos exposure, the effects of asbestos are generally worse when a person has been exposed to an intense concentration, or are exposed on a regular basis for a long period of time since asbestos accumulates in the body with every exposure and there is currently no known way to reverse the cellular damage asbestos causes.
What are some of the diseases caused by asbestos?
Asbestos-related diseases effect the lungs and pleura, membranes lining the thorax and enveloping the lungs. Some asbestos-related diseases include asbestosis (pulmonary fibrosis due to asbestos), pleural thickening and pleural plaques, as well as, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
What are some alternatives to asbestos?
- Polyurethane foam: Polyurethane foam differs from cellulose fiber in that, polyurethane foam is a spray product most commonly used in roofing materials, like insulation. Polyurethane foam combines the best qualities of plastics and rubber, trapping bubbles and providing an excellent quality thermal resistance.
- Amorphous silica fabric: Amorphous silica fibers are high temperature materials used for insulation and protection applications. Amorphous silica fabrics are used in shipyards, electrical and aerospace industries to prevent cloth from burning, rotting or growing mildew. Amorphous silica fabrics are not commonly used for residential applications, since fabrics do not contain fiberglass.
- Thermoset plastic flour: Thermoset plastic flour is a very common alternative to asbestos and is created by heating a liquid of powder and molding it into a desired shape. Thermoset plastic flour can be filled with wood flour or other fillers to reduce cost and deliver a great insulation alternative to asbestos. Thermoset plastic flour is also very versatile in nature and is used in everything from electrical insulation to auto parts.
- Cellulose fiber: Cellulose fiber relatively easy to manufacture and is one of the most common and widely used alternatives to asbestos. Cellulose fiber insulation is made from finely shredded newsprint and is chemically treated to reduce moisture and increase its resistance to fire. Cellulose fiber is also a great “green” alternative, since cellulose fiber is made up of roughly 85% recycled material.
We can perform the survey and have RESULTS the SAME DAY!
Rarefied Air Environmental has California State DOSH–certified Asbestos Consultants & Certified Site Surveillance Technicians to perform complete and fully comprehensive asbestos surveys of materials suspected to contain asbestos. These surveys will comply with any city or state requirements needed for renovation and demolition activities. California has in place several regulations that may require an asbestos survey to be performed for renovation, repair or demolition projects.
ONLY CALIFORNIA DOSH (Division of Occupational Safety & Health) CERTIFIED INSPECTORS maintain the proper licensing to perform asbestos surveys in the State of California. Construction companies should never collect asbestos samples for any reason but bidding purposes or safety precautions for workers. State and local laws prohibit contractors acting as an asbestos consultant.
Rarefied Air Environmental will perform the asbestos survey and generate a formal written report that will indicate what materials contain asbestos at varying levels or the absence of asbestos. Small bulk samples of the suspect materials will be sent to an independent and accredited laboratory for Polarized Light Microscopy Analysis (PLM). The final report will include diagrams, applicable regulations and laboratory data needed for small and large projects.
ONLY STATE-LICENSED ASBESTOS ABATEMENT CONTRACTORS SHOULD REMOVE OR DISTURB ASBESTOS! Not only are there local, state and federal regulations that govern asbestos removal and disposal, improper removal without protection can cause serious health effects or even death. Children are more susceptible to asbestos-related-diseases due to the years it takes to take effect on your health. Do not put your family or workers at risk! Only use professionals.
Asbestos Air Sampling
Rarefied Air Environmental is also licensed to collect and analyze Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) air samples. Samples may be collected to measure exposure or as a final air clearance for an asbestos abatement project. We are California State Licensed, and NIOSH 582 trained to collect and analyze PCM air samples and generate a report. We may also perform oversight of abatement projects that may be on-going. We can perform the PCM air clearance and get RESULTS ON SITE!
We also perform Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) asbestos air clearances if needed in your local school district, non-profit, public or private grades K-12.
There is no substitution for asbestos air sampling that can be bought at a store. Please only trust and use the professionals!
Major Health Effects
Asbestos exposure has several bad effects on individual’s health that may show signs in 1-20 years following exposure.
- Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs
- Lung cancer is a malignant tumor that invades and obstructs the lung’s air passages. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the likelihood of a person developing lung cancer as the result of asbestos exposure.
- Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which may affect the lining of the lungs (plura) or the abdominal contents (peritoneum). Most mesotheliomas are caused by exposure to asbestos.
- Gastrointestinal and Colorectal Cancers Studies of asbestos workers suggest that asbestos exposure might be associated with gastrointestinal (esophagus and stomach) and colorectal (colon and rectum) cancers. (No definitive link has been proven between Asbestos and non-respiratory cancers, however studies of Asbestos workers suggests a link).
Use Common Sense. Asbestos is used in many household products, and generally will not release asbestos into the air unless disturbed. Do not cut, rip, or sand asbestos-containing materials. Ripping, cutting, or moving the materials can release the asbestos into the air. If the asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed.
Be certain the contractor has the appropriate accreditations, reputation, and equipment to conduct the tests. We can give you referrals to local abatement contractors that are licensed, knowledgeable and do excellent work quickly and legally.