Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It has soft and pliable fibres which are heat and chemical resistant and therefore it has been used in many construction materials. The fibres, however, are very tiny and if inhaled into the lungs can cause serious health problems such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Since the mid 1980’s most developed countries have reduced asbestos in construction and finishing products. Homes built before this date may have components that contain asbestos.
Generally, asbestos is not considered as a health risk unless the fibres get into the air and therefore, can be inhaled. Asbestos fibres that are sealed or “encapsulated” within a product and cannot release fibres are not considered to be a health risk. However, if the product breaks down or is cut , abraded or disturbed, fibres can be released.
Some common products that may contain asbestos (this is not a complete list):
- Vermiculite insulation
- Water tank insulation
- Duct wrap
- Gaskets on fireplaces and stoves
- VA, Vinyl Asbestos tile
- Paint, putty, caulking, plaster
The only way to be sure if a product contains asbestos is to have it tested. If you suspect that there is asbestos in your home, have the product examined and tested before you handle it. When doing renovations of older homes it is important to recognise potentially harmful products and not to disturb them until you know that they are safe. If asbestos is discovered in your home you need to contact a professional asbestos removal company. This is not a do-it-yourself project!
In the Okanagan one product that was widely used and that may contain asbestos is Vermiculite Insulation. This product is a loose fill pellet type of insulation, usually grey/beige. The pellets look like little, puffed pop corn, approximately ½ to 1 cm in size. This insulation was used in attics and walls. If left undisturbed the fibers will generally not become airborne and therefore, are not a health risk. However, any disturbance such as maintenance work or renovation may cause the fibers to become airborne. It is important to note that not all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos; the only sure way to tell is to have a sample tested.
Skyview Inspection 360 Ltd. can collect samples of product(s) from your home and send them to an accredited lab for testing and report on the findings. Skyview Inspection 360 Ltd. does not do Asbestos remediation so we can offer unbiased testing & analysis.