Professional Asbestos Inspections
For decades, asbestos was used in the construction of new homes and commercial properties, because of its strength and flame-resistant qualities. However, we now know that asbestos can pose a health hazard to humans. So, being able to identify and abate it is crucial.
Asbestos inspections and surveys, such as those performed by Precision Environmental Services’ accredited inspectors, can help you determine how to best handle the situation.
Why You May Need An Asbestos Inspection
Because asbestos was used in construction projects throughout the 20th century, it is important to test for asbestos before starting any demolition or renovation project. While many people overlook this step, it is necessary to keep you safe and in compliance with local laws.
Asbestos can be a very harmful material, and, as such, should be taken very seriously. With older homes and buildings being the main source of asbestos in the United States, contamination can happen easier than you may think and can lead to several health-related issues, including certain cancers. One of the most common conditions caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue that covers your internal organs. Most often, it impacts the chest and lungs. Other serious health conditions include:
- Asbestosis happens when asbestos causes scarring of the lung tissue and can lead to shortness of breath and Mesothelioma.
- Pleural effusions cause a build-up of fluid between layers of the outside of the lungs.
- Pleural plaques can build-up in the outside layers of the lungs, and put patients at risk for certain cancers.
- Pleuritis is the inflammation of the membranes lining the lungs and can cause sharp pains when breathing.
- COPD, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, causes inflammation that can obstruct airflow to the lungs.
Some signs you may have been exposed to asbestos include, swelling or pain the abdomen, an obstruction of the bowels, weight loss, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, hernia, loss of appetite or clubbed fingers. But, over a long period of time, the effects of asbestos can be much more severe.
The worst effects typically happen when a person is exposed to a lot of the mineral, or if they are exposed to it regularly over time. Once the fibers are disturbed and become airborne, they can be easily inhaled. Once asbestos begins accumulating in the body, there is not currently a way to reverse the damage it causes.
When Do You Need An Inspection?
Asbestos becomes a threat when it is disturbed and then becomes airborne. In most cases, you cannot tell if a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If you think it may be a possibility, treat the material as if it does contain asbestos and do not bother. Instead, you should leave it to the professionals, like the accredited inspectors at Precision Environmental Services, if:
- Your home has damaged building materials, such as crumbling drywall or insulation that is falling apart
- You are planning to renovate your home, which could disturb the building materials
Inspecting materials by yourself is not encouraged, because the collection of the samples can be more hazardous than just leaving it alone. A trained asbestos professional knows exactly what to look for and how to handle materials to lessen the risk of exposure.
What You Need To Know About a Test
Once you have decided to contact a professional service for asbestos testing, it is important to understand how the analysis will work. An asbestos inspector typically beings by discussing the demolition or renovation project in depth. This will help them to determine which materials will be disturbed during the process. In general, if it is not wood, glass, metal, or ceramic it will need to be tested.
During testing, an asbestos inspector will take samples in one of two ways:
- Air Testing: During this analysis, the air is drawn into a cartridge that can trap any airborne asbestos fibers. Both the air and fibers are measured to determine if there has been exposure, and how much.
- Material Sampling: In this type of inspection, the contractor will take samples of common materials that could contain asbestos from the area in which your renovation or demolition will take place. From this, the inspector will measure the level of contamination.
As you prepare for the asbestos inspection, it is important to note that testing can be an invasive process. Often, it requires removing chunks of material from the building, exposing wall cavities, or lifting up floor finishes to determine if any materials could be hidden.
Asbestos Containing Materials
While experts warn against performing asbestos testing on your own, it is important to be aware of any materials that could contain the potentially harmful mineral. In a home, some of the common materials containing asbestos include:
Textured Ceilings: If a home has textured ceilings, especially popcorn ceilings, asbestos was likely used as an additive to create the effect.
Flooring: Recognized for its strength and fire-proof qualities, asbestos was often used in old vinyl tiles and flooring felt. While all floor tiles should be suspect, older floors are more likely to contain asbestos.
Drywall and Joint Compound: Drywall, sheetrock, texturing, and joint compound had asbestos added to them to provide stability and fireproofing. Because the drywall is easily damaged, you need to have testing done before any demolition.
Insulation: Asbestos had strong insulation and fireproofing values that could often be found as block insulation and contaminated vermiculite insulation, which is often found in older homes. You will also want to have your inspector check out any pipe insulation.
Who To Call for Inspections
While finding asbestos in a home is concerning, there is no need to panic. If the material you suspect contains asbestos is in good condition, it is best to leave it alone. If the material is damaged or will be damaged because of a renovation or demolition, you need to have it inspected and removed by a professional. Start by calling a licensed asbestos contractor, such as Precision Environmental Services to discuss your next steps.