If your home or business is older and hasn’t seen major renovations in years, there’s a chance that you may have asbestos present in various building materials. Up to the middle-to-late twentieth century, particularly during the building boom of the 1950s and 1960s, asbestos was considered a safe and affordable solution for insulation. It was easy to install and could fit almost anywhere.
In later years, it was revealed through countless scientific studies that asbestos was a highly noxious substance, often lethal in nature. It contributed towards the development of various illnesses and serious health complications. While a ban on asbestos took place in 2018, there’s still a chance that it may be present within your property.
Our team at Inflector are specialists in asbestos abatement. We are highly experienced in removing all types of asbestos across a diverse range of industries. Today, let’s explore what asbestos is, what common varieties exist, and why you should leave its removal to the experts at Inflector.
Asbestos comprises six natural minerals, combined in the form of flexible fibres that are tightly packed together in sheets. Highly resistant to heat and electrical arcing, asbestos became a popular choice for builders, for everything from insulation to fabrics. It was commonly found in floor tiles, stippled or “popcorn” ceiling finishes, cement mixes, and various sealants. Due to the widespread adoption of low-cost, asbestos-containing materials across a wide variety of industries, many properties around the world still pose a health and safety risk to their occupants, as plenty of asbestos has yet to be found and removed.
Friable vs Non-Friable Asbestos
There are two main forms of asbestos: friable and non-friable. The former represents materials that are easier to break down and prone to crumbling, such as old insulation. Non-friable asbestos materials are more solidified and difficult to disturb, and are commonly found in materials like floor tiles.
The key difference between the two is that friable materials easily release asbestos fibres into the airstream, which can be particularly dangerous in low-humidity conditions that allow airborne particles to travel further. As nonfriable alternatives are less likely to break, their asbestos fibres are more readily contained, making the abatement process safer.
Safe Handling of Asbestos
It’s critical to hire a certified abatement professional to handle all asbestos removal work – don’t ever attempt it yourself! This protects you and those around you, and greatly minimizes the risk of introducing more fibres to your indoor environment. With safety being our number one priority, our team at Inflector implements several precautions when completing asbestos abatement projects, including the following:
- Sealing affected areas and turning off air conditioning.
- Pump sprayer usage to prevent fibres from spreading through the airstream.
- Performing abatement tasks in full protective gear including respirators with HEPA filters and throwaway workwear.
- Safe and careful abatement of asbestos materials, including correct disposal procedures.
Common Types of Asbestos
Next, let’s explore the different types of asbestos commonly found in homes, businesses and industrial properties. Each of these are incredibly dangerous and pose serious health risks if professional abatement work isn’t performed to remove them.
Amosite isn’t quite as common as the other variants we’ll cover today, but it has a wider variety of hiding spots. These can include all sorts of roofing materials, tiling, insulation and weatherproofing compounds, and more. It’s not as easy to spot, depending on the environment in question, as it resembles the colour of a dark wood.
Despite its lovely, pastel-blue colour, crocidolite is one of the most dangerous asbestos variants out there. Coming into contact with this material is sure to make you extremely sick, and it is known to be highly lethal. You may find it in insulation, tiling, and cement building materials. Seek out urgent medical care if you happen to touch crocidolite – do not wait.
Chrysotile is native to the province of Quebec, where it was mined extensively for many decades up until Canada’s 2018 ban on asbestos. Even relatively newer buildings may contain this variant. If left undisturbed in the form of a nonfriable material containing chrysotile, this type of asbestos can be removed safely with no tangible risk of introducing more fibres to your indoor environment, so long as you utilize a trained abatement professional.
Actinolite is particularly dangerous due to its fibres being small, lightweight, and easily airborne. This can lead to accidental ingestion and lung penetration, causing serious health issues. Sourced from limestone and other rock deposits over the years, it has been used in fireproofing materials, insulation, and more.
We typically only see tremolite in older properties and materials. It was widely used for hundreds of years, and it hasn’t changed much since its initial production. This means it can be highly toxic. If you have a heritage property or old building materials, get them inspected for tremolite before proceeding further with any renovations or occupancy.
Produced until the 1970s, it’s possible to still find anthophyllite in unrenovated, older residential and commercial properties. Anthophyllite is commonly found in roofing and insulation. As the fibres are compressed together, friable materials using anthophyllite are extremely dangerous, and nonfriable variants need to be handled with extreme care.