Signs of Asbestos Contamination in the Home
Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that is composed of white, thin, thread-like crystals. It was widely used in construction mixed with cement for its very favorable electrical insulation and fire-resistant properties, and also because it added strength to the cement without increasing its weight. When it became known that asbestos presents a serious health hazard, its use in construction was banned in many countries.
Asbestos was a very common house-building material in Canada from the 1930s until the 1980s; in some places even until 1990s. Considering that Calgary has many buildings from this era, we can say that the problem with asbestos can become quite serious and widespread if left unchecked. Presence of asbestos may fly under the radar, but not if the symptoms are recognized on time and additional tests performed accordingly. Before we delve deeper into this issue, let’s see why is asbestos so dangerous and how it affects human health.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
What makes asbestos harmful to health are its toxic fibrous crystals. Due to normal wear and tear, and abrasion of materials that contain asbestos, microscopic fibers are released into the air, causing serious lung issues when inhaled. Tiny, but sharp fibers make microscopic cuts on lung tissues, causing inflammation. As a result of prolonged exposure, inflammation becomes chronic and the lungs become scarred. This usually results in serious lung diseases like asbestosis and cancer. One specific type of cancer, called mesothelioma, is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. The elderly and people with impaired health are especially sensitive to asbestos poisoning.
What are the Signs of Asbestos Contamination?
In older houses, asbestos can be found in flue pipes, exterior fibre cement cladding, artificial brick cladding, building boards, cement pipe columns, floor tiles, corrugated roofing and similar products. Most houses built before 1980 are made of materials containing asbestos, at least to some extent. If these items and materials remain intact, there is little risk when in contact with them because asbestos isn’t a health hazard until it becomes airborne. Any damage or disturbance to the grain of the materials will release asbestos microfibers into the air. That is why it is not advised to cut, drill or sand materials that are suspected to contain asbestos without protective gear.
Simple visual inspection cannot precisely determine if asbestos is present in the air or not, but it is always useful to check if any products potentially containing asbestos are showing signs of wear or damage. If there is even a slight suspicion of asbestos presence, it is recommended to hire a technician for professional asbestos testing. Home built after 1980 are less likely to contain asbestos, but nevertheless may require testing.
What Health Symptoms Indicate Asbestos Exposure?
Considering that asbestos becomes harmful when it is airborne and inhaled, the first symptoms usually involve the lungs – shortness of breath, chest pain and dry cough. Symptoms of severe exposure include pleural plaques, pleural thickening and pleural effusion (fluid build-up around the lungs). Exposure to asbestos can also affect other parts of the body – throat, stomach and colon. The most common symptoms in these body parts are abdominal swelling and pain, problems with swallowing, loss of appetite, weight loss and hernia.
It is important to note that symptoms of asbestos exposure can take a lot of time to present themselves, considering that most diseases related to it are diagnosed at least 15 years after they started developing. This is why it is very important to test the presence of asbestos before purchasing or moving to a new house or an apartment, especially if the building is old.
Safe Asbestos Testing & Removal by Matrix Remediation
Considering the nature of the problem, the presence of asbestos in the home can be most safely and correctly determined by a professional, like the technicians at Matrix Remediation. Using expert experience, they will inspect the house, take samples and test them to determine whether there is asbestos in the air or not. If the results come back positive, appropriate measures need to be taken as soon as possible. Asbestos-based materials that are generally in good condition, or have a minor damage that can easily be repaired or isolated may not need to be removed, but could indicate bigger issues where it is best to call an asbestos removal company.
Matrix Remediation provides a wide range of services, performed by well-trained technical teams, equipped with the resources to handle projects of any size. Matrix Remediation takes great care of their clients and the environment, working within given budgets, providing excellent personal service and using products and methods that are eco-friendly. If you suspect asbestos contamination in your home, call 1-888-885-8683 or send us a message!
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