Most people have heard of asbestos. They know that can be dangerous and is something to stay away from. But beyond that, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who can tell you what asbestos actually is or where it comes from.
What is Asbestos?
The Mesolthemlia center describes asbestos as “a group of six naturally occurring minerals made up of heat-resistant fibers.” These six minerals can be divided into two categories: amphibole and serpentine asbestos.
Amphibole asbestos fibers have a straight, rigid shape with sharp, irregular edges. The five recognized kinds of amphibole asbestos are Actinolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Crocidolite (blue,) and Tremolite.
On the other hand, serpentine asbestos fibers are much more supple and have are curly in shape. There is only one known type of serpentine asbestos: Chrysotile, or white asbestos.
What are the Effects of Asbestos Exposure?
The real danger comes from inhalation of asbestos. When the toxic fibers enter the lungs, they are there to stay. Over time, these fibers can accumulate, causing abrasions and inflammation of the lungs leading to long-term, permanent damage.
One of the most dangerous conditions that stem from asbestos inhalation is Mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of cancer that causes tumors to form on the surfaces of the lungs or heart.
Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
Because of its heat, electrical, and corrosion-resistant properties, asbestos was used extensively in residential construction from the 1940s to the late 1970s. Chances are if you live in a home that was built prior to the 1980s, there are probably components of your home, such as wall insulation, that contain asbestos. Attics and unfinished basements are hotspots for asbestos, as these building materials are openly exposed and allow the toxic fibers to float freely in the air.
Even though the dangers of asbestos are recognized and regulated today, the use of the mineral is still legal in the United States. Manufacturers of car parts such as gaskets and brake pads still rely on asbestos for added strength and heat resistance. As a result, mechanics and workers involved in the construction of these parts have an increased risk for asbestos exposure.
How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure
Unfortunately, without lab testing, there’s no way to tell if there is asbestos in your home, so the best way to protect yourself from exposure is to contact a professional who can help you identify the dangerous mineral and formulate a plan to eliminate the risk.
If you need to access your attic, basement, or any area that you are unsure of, you should also consider wearing a respirator mask with p100 filters that will prevent you from breathing in any airborne asbestos.
Air Quality Testing in Richmond and Virginia Beach
The bottom line is asbestos extremely dangerous. Prolonged exposure to this toxic mineral can have devastating and even fatal consequences. If you suspect that there may be asbestos in your home, it’s crucial that you contact a qualified professional to inspect your home immediately.
Here at AQC, It’s our goal to protect the residents of the Richmond and Virginia Beach areas from all types of indoor airborne pollutants. Our team of experienced air quality technicians has the knowledge and the equipment needed to identify exactly what’s floating around in your home’s air. Contact us today to schedule an indoor air quality test.