What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of natural silicate minerals comprised of varying concentrations of tremolite, actinolite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. These bundles of fibers (up to 700 times smaller than a human hair) can be separated into thin, durable threads and used primarily for insulation until the late 1970s/early 1980s. Most commonly used types of asbestos are Chrysotile (white) and Amosite (brown / off-white). Asbestos is considered a form of hazardous waste.
Where is Asbestos Found?
Usually asbestos is found in building materials that were installed before 1981. Asbestos is most commonly found in the fibres of older construction materials, and asbestos removal is required in any building displaying high levels of these minerals. Building materials that may contain asbestos include: insulation, boiler insulation, boiler pipe insulation, wall and ceiling insulation, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, plasters, door gaskets, siding, cement roofing and shingles.
When is Asbestos Dangerous?
When left intact and undisturbed, asbestos containing materials do not pose a health risk to people working or living in buildings. However, when these materials are releasing dust or fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested they become very harmful and can cause serious illnesses. Many of the fibers will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract.