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When is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos is a durable, non-flammable mineral long used in building materials but now known for its cancer-causing property. The use of asbestos was limited by the Clean Air Act of 1970 and then by the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Contrary to popular belief, though, the U.S. has not banned asbestos. It's still used in vehicle parts, such as brake linings. Old buildings may still carry it in their...

  • Insulation
  • Tiling
  • Paint
  • Piping
  • Roof shingles

But the owners of old homes shouldn't panic because materials that contain asbestos are not, in themselves, harmful. This is assuming that they're in good condition and that they're not in any danger of being disturbed through a construction or remodeling project.

Inhaling Asbestos

It’s when you inhale the asbestos fibers that they harm you, and the fibers only become airborne when the materials they're in are disturbed. So construction and renovations cause asbestos to go airborne. It can also happen with the crumbling of asbestos insulation, the installing of such insulation, and the mining and processing of asbestos. Secondhand asbestos exposure is a real thing with the families of not only miners but also:

  • Construction workers
  • Insulators
  • Shipyard workers

Swallowing Asbestos

Asbestos can enter your system by being swallowed, too. For instance, your cement pipes might contaminate your water with the mineral. Food stored where asbestos fibers are floating around will be contaminated.

No "Safe" Amount of Asbestos

There's no such thing as a "safe" dosage of asbestos. Granted, asbestos-related diseases can be divided into those that are dose-related and those that are not. Asbestosis and lung cancer are dose-related, which means the greater and more frequent the asbestos exposure, the greater the risk of developing it. Mesothelioma, though, can arise from even a small amount of asbestos.

Bottom line: If materials containing asbestos in your home are crumbling or flaking, don’t attempt to fix it yourself. Asbestos removal is a job best left to trained professionals. To schedule an appointment with Burns Environmental Services, contact us at (800) 577-4009.