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Due to its popularity in the early- to mid-twentieth century, asbestos can still be found in homes and buildings today. Buildings that were constructed prior to the 1970s, when knowledge of health risks surfaced and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed a partial ban on the material, are more likely to contain asbestos. If you discover an asbestos problem, you’ll want to make sure it’s handled and, if need be, disposed of properly. The last thing you want is an increased chance of exposure to this dangerous material.
How Asbestos Causes Harm
Asbestos is a conglomeration of durable fibers that can easily be pulled apart, scratched or torn. When this happens, microscopic fibers detach from the rest and float into the air where they can be unknowingly inhaled. These fibers can remain in the lungs indefinitely, gradually scarring tissue and causing inflammation, and even leading to more serious lung diseases and cancer.
Where Asbestos Is Found
The versatility of this material is immense, crossing over from construction materials to commercial products. Common places to look for asbestos include ceiling, roofing and flooring tile, wall insulation, stove-top pads, and pipe lining. Not all asbestos is visible to the naked eye and may require a sample collection by an inspector for lab testing.
If you discover asbestos, it’s essential not to disturb it. Asbestos that is perfectly intact has not released fibers into the air, and touching, scraping or tearing it may do so. Minimize activity around the asbestos area and keep children away from it. Attempting to remove the asbestos yourself is not advised, as it requires proper equipment and trained techniques to prevent exposure to the fibers. You can hire two types of asbestos professionals to handle the problem:
- Inspectors: These professionals provide a range of services, from collecting samples for testing, to assessing damaged areas and recommending contractors
- Contractors: Depending on the amount of damage, a contractor can remove or repair the asbestos
Even if you only suspect you have something containing asbestos, it never hurts to hire an inspector to either confirm or deny your suspicions.
When Hiring a Professional
If you decide to hire an inspector or contractor, check their credentials and work history to ensure they are properly trained and qualified to handle the asbestos. Make sure an inspector records all notes of damage and recommendations, and request a follow-up visit from them when contract work is complete to check that the asbestos has been correctly removed.
Asbestos is a problem no one wants to deal with, but the health consequences are far greater if it is ignored. Contact a Los Angeles asbestos abatement contractor if you are ever unsure of how to tackle an asbestos problem.
Thanks to Nielsen Environmental for their insight into asbestos removal and the safest way to manage the problem.