Home Renovations And The Dangers Of Asbestos

In the past, exposure to asbestos was mainly associated with milling and mining of raw materials. Workers who were involved in products manufacturing and construction were the most affected. Heavy use of asbestos was rampant during 1960s and 1970 but declined later when worker’s protection regulation was put in place. Asbestos has not been used in building materials in many counties including Canada, Australia, UK and United States since 1980s. For instance, in United States, it is illegal to store, supply or sell of materials containing asbestos. However, although the use of products containing asbestos has been banned in many countries, the damage had already been done. Effects of asbestos is still been seen today. A study on asbestos exposure that was published in the Medical Journal of Australia revealed that majority of houses that were built in mid-1980s still contain asbestos fibro materials. The study also pointed out that increase in number of malignant mesothelioma is as a result of DIY home renovation projects that involves building products containing asbestos. Today, most exposure to asbestos occur during renovations, repair, removal and maintenance.

Why it is important to test for asbestos before doing home renovations?

If you want to renovate your home it is crucial to call an expert to inspect to see whether there are any traces of asbestos. In Australia alone, it is estimated that over 60% of all production and 90% of all consumption of asbestos occurred in asbestos cement manufacturing industry. John Timble from iAsbestos Removal Brisbane stated that over 40% of properties in Australia still contain asbestos. In Untied States, it is estimated the asbestos kills 12,000- 15, 000 people per year. Many buildings made with asbestos are still in use today. It is very difficult to know if there is presence of asbestos in your house just by looking. That is why it is very important to call an expert to help you through the process. Asbestos poses life threatening health risks when its fibers are breathed in. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Conducting test when renovating your home will go a long way in ensuring that your family is safe.

Why asbestos exposure has been linked with DIY renovations

Various studies have shown that asbestos products are not harmful if left undisturbed. However, it poses serious health risk to people around when disturbed. In the past many people diagnosed with asbestos related health conditions was as a result of work related exposure. However, things have changed today. There is a growing evidence that shows people including women suffering from asbestos health complication as a result of DIY home renovations. When asbestos is disturbed during renovation, it releases fiber into the air that can be inhaled. When inhaled, it poses health risk of developing lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. A report released by the Australian Mesothelioma Registry showed that 450 people in 2016 were diagnosed with mesothelioma. Out of these, 33% were women and 37.2% were home renovators. Lack of proper safety gears and information has been attributed as the main reason for asbestos exposure during DIY renovations.

Dangers of asbestos

Breathing in asbestos has been linked with 4 asbestos related health conditions, all of which can be fatal. These diseases take time to develop but when they finally show up, they have no cure. They include: 

1. Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that can cause respiratory impairment as well as lung cancer. This condition usually causes shortness of breath and in some cases, it can be fatal. The condition usually develops when you get exposed to asbestos fiber over a long period of time.

2. Lung cancer

Asbestos has also been linked with lung cancer. However, the type of cancer that it causes is the same as one caused by tobacco. As a result, there are no distinct characteristics that can specify that lung cancer has been caused by asbestos. Smoking increases the risk of death by up to 10 times.

3. Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs as well as the lining that surrounds lower digestive tract. Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma is exclusively related to asbestos exposure. It take time to develop and by the time it is diagnosed, it is always fatal and life threatening.

4. Pleural thickening 

This is a medical condition that usually occur when you are exposed to asbestos for long period of time. It causes the lining of the lung to swell and thicken. In advanced stages, it can squeeze the lungs causing shortness of breath and chest discomfort.

How to safely remove asbestos

What should I do if find asbestos in my home? This is a very common question asked by many people. Asbestos poses life threatening health risks when disturbed to produce dust. However, in many cases, presence of material containing asbestos don’t not pose any danger if the material has not been damaged. It is very important to note that removing asbestos is dangerous and complicated procedure and should not be done unless it is must. In that case, then you need to take precautions. Below are tips on how to safely remove asbestos.

1. Leave it if it is undamaged

If the material containing asbestos is undamaged, then it does not pose any health risk. Don’t interfere with it, instead leave it intact. If you are uncomfortable with the fact that you have asbestos containing material, call an expert immediately to remove it safely.

2. Don’t use materials that will remove asbestos dust

Don’t scrub the material with broom or brush. In addition to that, you should not use power tools or drill into asbestos products. Instead, wet gently with water to keep dust down. Keep in mind that it is actually illegal to water blast cement material that contain asbestos.

3. Use protective mask

It is very important to wear protective mask when removing asbestos products. The mask will help protect you against asbestos fumes

4. Ensure that you comply with asbestos removal laws 

Many countries that have banned the use of asbestos have put in place guidelines for asbestos handling and disposal. It is very important to comply with those laws to avoid getting in trouble with the state as well as risking your life.

Having your home checked for asbestos is crucial if you are thinking of renovating it. If you want the job to be done well, it is recommended that you hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor.