Hailed as a naturally occurring, fireproof material, asbestos first came into the U.S. industrial scene in the 1800s. Peak production didn’t occur until 1973 when roughly 804,000 tons of it were processed in the U.S. alone. By that point, asbestos could be found in building components everywhere — schools, homes, commercial buildings, and more.
However, it wasn’t until the late ’70s when the nation began to realize a connection between asbestos exposure and debilitating lung diseases. Now, there are environmental regulations and procedures in place to ensure asbestos is contained and exposure to potential inhalation is controlled. Even though asbestos production in building components is outlawed in the U.S., many new construction projects obtain building components produced overseas where asbestos is still allowed to be used, meaning even buildings built today could contain asbestos. Asbestos is most dangerous to human health when it becomes friable, meaning that you can create dust with hand pressure alone. These days, the dust created during renovation and demolition is the most common exposure route for asbestos inhalation. Generally, asbestos-containing materials are not a concern until it is deteriorated and friable, or if it is disturbed. Could there be asbestos in your home or work environment? Keep reading to learn where it might be hiding.
- Old water tanks – If your building has an old water tank, you’re likely to find asbestos there. In fact, any building constructed before or during the 1980s is likely to have some form of asbestos lurking inside.
- Loose insulation – Asbestos was a popular insulator as a result of its fire- and heat-resistant nature. Unfortunately, this loose insulation is made up of microscopic fibers that, if disturbed and inhaled, can cause debilitating diseases.
- Ceiling and floor tiles – Ceiling and floor tiles, even linoleum, are likely to have asbestos in them. Moreover, the adhesive materials used to bind these components to the structure, almost always have high asbestos content. Most asbestos evaluations find tiles like these in old office buildings and school buildings. These tiles are typically harmless unless they’re cracked or shattered and have the potentials to create dust particles.
- Pipes – Various pipes were made with, and insulated by, asbestos. Asbestos piping insulation is one of the most friable and most dangerous building materials found in buildings today.
- HVAC ductwork – Asbestos testing is likely to turn up some results throughout structural ductwork, especially in older buildings.
- Plaster and Drywall Spackle– Buildings built in the 1800s typically used horse hair in plaster, however, plaster in buildings built mainly through 1900-1970 often used asbestos as the fibrous material to hold the plaster together. Additionally, drywall spackle, or mud, and even drywall itself often contains asbestos.
Whether you suspect asbestos in your home or in your commercial space, it’s crucial to invest in asbestos hazard evaluation and sampling. This is the only viable way to confirm whether or not there is asbestos in the locations mentioned above. In Ohio, if you are the homeowner, currently living in the home, you are allowed to remove the asbestos-containing materials, properly bag the material, and dispose of in the local landfill. However, if you are not the current owner and resident, and if the property is not residential, a qualified abatement team will be required to remove it according to the most up-to-date environmental regulations and disposal must be at a designated facility. Fortunately, with the right environmental site assessment and environmental consulting, you’ll be able to identify and remove asbestos wherever it may be lurking.