Category: Potential asbestos hazards

Why Are Popcorn Ceilings So Terrible

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Popcorn Ceilings May Contain Asbestos

Many older houses have what are known as popcorn ceilings. If you are thinking of buying one of these older houses, then find out about these types of spray on ceiling covers before making an offer, so you know whether you are willing to live with it or able to afford the cost of removing it.

What Is A Popcorn Ceiling

A popcorn ceiling is the name given to ceilings that have been treated with a spray-on textured paint. They are also known as acoustic ceilings, because they have sound-proofing qualities. Many people do not like them, firstly because they are old fashioned and not what they consider to be in tune with modern decor and secondly because they may contain asbestos.

Does It Contain Asbestos?

Sources Of Asbestos in Homes

Where To Find Asbestos In The Home

It’s often surprising just where exactly asbestos can be found in older homes and what needs to be done to ensure a safe asbestos clean up. The best route is to bring in the experts. Qualified asbestos removal firms will have trained staff, who will know where exactly to look for possible uses, such as sidings, floor tiles,  asbestos duct or ductwork insulation and boiler areas for instance. They will also be trained to use the correct methods, such as taping off areas with asbestos danger tape, using asbestos cleaning cloths and disposal bags or they may possibly recommend asbestos encapsulation methods for areas where the material does not need removal and is not friable but where work is needed to ensure any asbestos cannot be accidentally released.

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK has produced an image that shows some (not all) of the possible places to find asbestos in the home. The numbering guide can be found on their page. The picture is linked to the page it comes from.

www.asbestosremovalz.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an old film available that shows many of the areas where asbestos can be found in an older house. Warning: the video is actually called “how to  safely remove asbestos” but what it really does is show you where asbestos is located. If you are interested in watching to see how many ways asbestos was used in older houses, then check out the asbestos documentary below.

 

This page contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

Asbestos Tiles

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous, mineral material which is extremely hazardous when the fibers become airborne and are inhaled, because these fibers adhere to the lining of the lungs, and can cause cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers are very fine and the most dangerous ones are the ones you cannot see with the naked eye, because they can penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs.

Asbestos Tiles

You may think you are safe from these substances in your own home but at one time it was quite popular to choose asbestos tiles as a form of flooring. Asbestos has good insulating and fire resisting properties and to this day you can actually find old asbestos floor tiles which have been hidden under carpeting for instance. While they remain undisturbed and in good condition, they are safe and it is legal for them to remain there but the problem comes when you want to remodel your home or lay down a fresh floor or the tiles are no longer in good condition.

If you are in an older house then it is a legal requirement that you need to consider whether your floor tiles contain asbestos before you start to remove them or replace them or do work that could cause asbestos fibers to be released into the air. If you suspect that your floor tiles contain asbestos, you will need to call in a trained and registered contractor who is legally able to remove and safely dispose of the asbestos material.

If you suspect that your floor tiles contain asbestos, then it is also possible that other areas of your house contain asbestos too.
You can find it in fuse boxes; it would be behind the actual fuse. Textiles and composites made of asbestos were also around at the same time as asbestos tiles were. It could also be found in old heat resistant gloves and fire blankets. Bath panels, window sills, toilet seats and cisterns may also contain asbestos composites. Asbestos paper was actually used inside metal cladding and for lining under tiles.

What do These Look Like?

These materials which contain asbestos are not really that distinctive from what is used nowadays, this includes asbestos tiles. It is recommended that you look for a trade name, if that cannot be found then inquire with the previous homeowners as to how long they have had certain thing or how long ago certain materials were installed in the home. If you do find a trade name, you can easily look it up online and receive further information on it.

How Dangerous is it To Work With These Materials?

Working with any kind of material that contains any type of asbestos is very dangerous. That being said, there are tasks with certain materials that can be carried out by workers who are non-licensed yet appropriately trained.

Normally, work on certain material is not necessarily notifiable; the exception would be if the materials are not in good condition. Another exception would be if the work will most likely cause significant deterioration and breakup of the material, notification in this case would be required.

Asbestos Definition

Asbestos Definition

Loose asbestos fibers

Billbeee at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

What the term “asbestos” refers to is a set of six fibrous minerals that are naturally occurring, those are crocidolite, anthophyllite, actinolite, chrysotile, amosite, and tremolite. Among these, the most common are chrysotile and amosite asbestos.

Any material that contains more than one percent of asbestos is defined as Asbestos Containing Material (ACM). This can include insulation on pipework and boilers, fireproofing that has been sprayed or troweled on, sound proofing material such as acoustic plaster, floor, ceiling and wall tiles and linoleum, roofing materials, ceiling plaster, fuse box insulation and gasket materials.

Although in nature asbestos fibers are microscopic, they are resistant to fire and most chemical breakdown and reactions and they are extremely durable. These properties that asbestos offers are the reasons which for many years its use was supported in a number of different industrial and commercial capacities.

The resistance to heat of asbestos combined with its strength allowed it to become the choice material for various products, including cement compounds, automotive parts, roofing shingles, ceiling materials, and textile products. As exposure to this toxic material has now been scientifically and directly linked to a variety of respiratory and lung conditions such as mesothelioma, its use and removal is now strictly regulated.

Why Is Asbestos Hazardous?

There was a sharp decline in the use of asbestos in the late 1970s when it started to become evident that it was posing a threat to the health and safety of humans. Nowadays, asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen. The durability factor of asbestos which made it so desirable to manufacturers is in fact what makes it so extremely hazardous.

Asbestos fibers are roughly around .02 the diameter of a human hair, they are microscopic and as such they are inhaled easily. Once the fibers have been inhaled, they cling to the respiratory system; this includes the inner cavity tissue and the lining of the lungs. Being as typically, asbestos fibers are quite rigid; they become lodged in the respiratory system and are not easily broken down by the body or expelled.

In some capacity, due to the extensive use of the mineral in industrial, commercial and even domestic products, hundreds and thousands of people were exposed to it. There is not a single type of asbestos that is safe nor is there a safe level of exposure. Nearly everyone who has ever been exposed to asbestos is potentially at risk of respiratory health complications that are quite serious.

Who Is At Risk Of Being Exposed to Asbestos?

There are hundreds of occupations that were affected by asbestos exposure. Some of the industries in which asbestos was especially prevalent include but are not limited to commercial product manufacturing, construction, shipbuilding, and power plants. Prior to 1980, workers employed in these industries likely came into contact with asbestos products. Also at high risk for having been exposed to asbestos are military veterans.

Although exposure to asbestos is hazardous, not every asbestos product is inherently hazardous. Being as in order to represent health risk asbestos must be inhaled, a true hazard is represented only by asbestos found in the air supply, a condition that is known as friable, or loose asbestos fibers. Stable asbestos compounds, such as tiles, intact cement, or other products, generally are not an immediate hazard. If you believe that you have been exposed to asbestos in some way or another, it is important to report it and seek immediate medical evaluation.

Asbestos found in Children’s Crayons

Some crayons, imported from China, have been found to contain traces of Asbestos!

crayons

crayons

They are not being recalled because the asbestos is set in wax and is thus not thought to be a problem for inhalation.  However, experts at UKATA say that any level of asbestos present in a children’s product, is unacceptable because asbestos presents very real dangers of cancer. And while the asbestos may be set in wax, reducing dangers of inhalation, many children put crayons in their mouths and parents may not find this a problem as they believe the wax is non-toxic.

 

One company has already pulled the crayons, (some marketed with images from films such as Frozen and TV programmes like Peppa Pig) from its shelves, bringing praise for acting responsibly.

 

 

Heating Engineer Fined £5,000 and costs – Asbestos Risk

Circular Saw

Circular Saw

A self employed heating engineer was prosecuted and fined for not preventing exposure to asbestos in a home where he was carrying out work. He was installing a new heating system at the home and removed redundant pipework with a circular saw and then carried the lagged pipework through the house and left it outside in the garden. This meant that asbestos fibres could have been released exposing both him and the homeowners to contamination.

The contractor had not undertaken any asbestos awareness training, which would have helped him recognise that the lagging could contain asbestos. Once recognised as a possible source of asbestos, he should have had it removed by a licensed contractor. As it was, the house owners had to move out for their home to be decontaminated.

Karl Locher pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 with £3,000 costs.

Remember, his insurance company will also have had to pay for compensation associated with this, so his insurance costs will skyrocket too!

Sources of Asbestos Hazards

Where can Asbestos be Found? Potential Sources of Asbestos

Warning sign for potential asbestos

Asbestos Hazard Warning Sign

Do you have any idea where asbestos is lurking? Though regulations have become quite strict, there are still some residential and commercial sources of asbestos.

Asbestos products have gradually been disappearing but they were widely used before the introduction of bans on the use of this material and it’s still possible to find asbestos in older constructions.

Identifying and getting rid of asbestos is essential because of the numerous health risks associated to it. Here are some of the most common sources of asbestos that you could come across.

 

Asbestos Cement

water tank

water tank

Asbestos cement roofs and flues were common in the past. Asbestos cement roofs can be commonly found on farms and commercial properties.

Sometimes, asbestos can also be discovered in the roofs of sheds or garages. Asbestos cement flues were common in boiler systems, air conditioning and ventilation. These were typical for both commercial and residential developments.

Asbestos cement was sometimes used in the construction of water tanks, as well. Properties constructed prior to the 1980s could potentially have a water tank made of this material.

Sealants

furnace

furnace

Until the 1980s, asbestos was frequently used as a sealant around windows and doors. Its insulating properties made the material a really common pick in both residential and commercial buildings.

Asbestos is also heat-resistant, which is why the material could be found as a sealant in old furnaces. Cleaning older furnaces could potentially be a dangerous activity because it may release the asbestos particles in the air. Figuring out whether the material was used for insulation prior to getting started with cleaning will be essential.

 

 

Wallpaper

Yes, asbestos could be found in something as innocent as old wallpaper.

wallpaper

wallpaper

Many vinyl papers made prior to the 1980s contain asbestos. Removing those and replacing them with something a bit more innovative could be a downright dangerous task. Intact wallpaper isn’t dangerous but trying to tear it from the walls will release the asbestos fibers in the air.

If you’re looking at an older house that’s in need of wallpaper removal, you should first talk to a professional about it. Experts in the field will test the wallpaper and the adhesive for asbestos, after which they’ll recommend the best removal procedure.

Textured Coatings

textured coating

textured coating

In the past, textured coatings were used as a decorative finish. They were popular for use on the walls and the ceilings of buildings.

Depending on the particular decorative effect that was sought, such textured coatings could have peaks or different patterns. The original color of the material is white. It can easily be painted over.

If undisturbed, textured coatings containing asbestos are not dangerous. Still, it’s essential to get those identified and assess the risk. If you plan to carry out a renovation project in the future that involves tearing down the coating, you’ll need professional assistance.

Floor Covers

Vinyl sheets and rubber floor covers often contained asbestos fibers in the past. These

floor tiles

textured tiles

materials were “tight” and heavy because of the presence of asbestos fibers. Even the adhesive that was used for such floor covers contained some amount of asbestos.

It’s a general assumption that floor covers and tiles installed prior to the 1980s contain some amount of asbestos.

The amount of asbestos in flooring is generally small and older floors can be easily covered with new materials. If the old flooring is to be removed, however, the danger will have to be evaluated in advance.

How to Check for Asbestos and Identify It

A visual inspection of your home, office or other commercial property is the only one you should be undertaking. Don’t disturb the material that could potentially be a source of asbestos. Inhaling the fibers will increase the risk of experiencing asbestos-related health problems, so be careful about it.

Asbestos is a fibrous material and any old insulation fibers could potentially contain it. Requesting the assistance of a certified professional is the best idea in such situations. The professional will take a small sample from the questionable material and lab exams will be performed to determine whether there is asbestos.

Depending on the location of the material and its condition, you’ll have to determine whether to remove it or leave it undisturbed. Asbestos products in good condition will not release dangerous fibers. If any damage has been incurred, however, safe removal will be the best strategy.

Any older building comes with the risk of asbestos being present in the construction materials. Since the health risks associated with asbestos are serious, it’s important to identify it and assess the material’s condition early enough. Asbestos-containing materials may be isolated, repaired or removed. Whichever option you choose, it’s crucial to pick a certified professional for the execution of the task.

Asbestos Spider

Rose Tarantula

Picture in public domain, downloaded from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grammostola_rosea_adult_m%C3%A4nnlich.jpg under GNU free documentation license.

As if asbestos itself were not dangerous enough, an asbestos removals firm in Cardiff, Wales, UK found the cast off coat of what is believed to be  a Rose Tarantula in the attic of an abandoned house they were working in. While the Chilean Rose Tarantula is fairly docile, with weak poison, it is not known if there is a possible breeding population of these creatures in the house. Read the full story from the Independent newspaper online.

Removing Asbestos

What You Should Know About Asbestos Removal

English: This is a typical asbestos enclosure ...

English: This is a typical asbestos enclosure constructed by Trinitas Contracts in the UK for the removal of asbestos sprayed coating from beams. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve found out that your home has asbestos, what are you going to do? Asbestos was used in many homes over the years as it was fire and chemical retardant. Although it would have seemed like a good choice because of those reasons, asbestos has now been found to cause respiratory and lung problems. Because of the popularity of asbestos in building over the years, many older buildings and homes may have asbestos in them. If your home has asbestos in it, you will need to have it assessed for risk. In most cases, it is best to leave it in place and possibly encapsulate it but in some cases, you may need to properly remove it to prevent health problems for you and your family.

When asbestos needs to be removed, it requires a professional asbestos removal team. You should NOT try doing it yourself. If you were to choose to remove the asbestos yourself, you could be breaking the law (in the United Kingdom anyway) and it could end up more costly than having the professionals do it. If you have to have asbestos removed, you should however, have a sample taken (by a qualified asbestos professional) to have it tested to make sure that asbestos is actually present in your home before you start arranging for professional removal.

What do the Professionals do?
Professional asbestos removal companies will know what the country, state or federal regulations are for removing asbestos. They will have or will obtain the necessary permits for asbestos removal in your area. These permits tell them how to handle the removal process, and should also designate a safe disposal area. When they are ready to begin your asbestos removal, the removals people will have a proper system for breathing. Breathing asbestos is very bad for you (it can cause a form of cancer) therefore they need to have a form of breathing ventilation system.They also wear protective clothing that can be disposed of after the work is complete.

It is illegal, in many places, to hire anyone to remove asbestos if they are not professionally qualified and registered. Asbestos needs to be kept wet at all times during its removal as, when asbestos is wet, the fibers will stay in place and won’t become airborne. As the removal proceeds, the removed asbestos is put into sealed storage containers, which will then be taken to a landfill designated to handle asbestos disposal.

Removing asbestos is a long, potentially harmful process. It must be handled with a lot of care as you do not want to cause any health problems for yourself, family, or anyone around. If you need to remove asbestos you MUST contact professionals that specialize in asbestos removal.

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