Asbestos is very hazardous to your health once inhaled. An overview about asbestos will help you understand the risks involved especially when you're trying to remove it yourself.
Asbestos has six types of naturally occurring minerals and made up of fine, durable fibres which are resistant to heat, fire and many chemicals. They were used for building materials and fireproof protective gear. It is divided into two categories which are Serpentine asbestos and Amphibole asbestos.
Serpentine asbestos are the ones that's made up of long, curly fibres. The only mineral that belongs to this category is the chrysotile. Amphibole asbestos on the other hand includes five minerals which are amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite. These are made up of brittle, rod- or needle-shaped fibres.
Both of these categories are very harmful and when inhaled or ingested, it will give you a lot of health complications including cancer. It is proven to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. It does not cause an immediate harm but it will arise many years after the first exposure.
The products known to have contain asbestos are: Floor tiles, Ceiling tiles, Asbestos Cement, Wall panels, Boiler insulation, Electrical insulation, Spray-on fireproofing, Wallboard joint compound, Wall and attic insulation, Asbestos paper and millboard.
People working around these materials should wear the proper protective gear. The safest way to repair or remove asbestos containing material is to hire a trained and certified asbestos professional.
If you have to handle asbestos yourself then there are important guidelines that you need to remember:
- Do Not use power tools
- Do Not use abrasive cutting or sanding discs
- Do Not use compressed air
- Do Not use high-pressure hoses
- Do Not walk on corrugated asbestos cement roofs as you may run the risk of falling through the roof
- Do Not leave asbestos products around the garden where they may be broken or crushed
- Do get the material tested by a NATA-accredited laboratory if you are unsure if it contains asbestos
- Always work with asbestos in well-ventilated areas
- Ensure the material is thoroughly wet down and kept wet during work to minimise the release of fibres and dust
If you accidentally break a material containing asbestos, the safest way to manage any health risks is to wipe up any dust with a damp cloth or paper towel and discard them using two plastic bags tied individually.
Remember to dispose asbestos waste to a site where it is approved by your local council.