How to Identify Asbestos: A Full Guide

identify asbestos

Asbestos-related diseases kill over 12,000 Americans every year. Despite this staggering total, many homes still harbor this toxic material.

Knowing how to identify asbestos is the first step towards quick removal. The faster you remove this harmful material from your home, the better.

In this guide, we’ll go over what asbestos is and how to figure out if your home has it.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to 6 different types of silicate minerals that insulated homes up until the late 20th century. These fibrous materials include Chrysotile, Tremolite, Crocidolite, Amosite, and Anthophyllite. Over 95% of asbestos contains Chrysotile.

The construction industry viewed asbestos as a versatile material before labeled as dangerous, as it’s a cheap way to fireproof, caulk, and insulate.

In the 1970s, scientists deemed asbestos a health hazard. The material is a cancer-causing agent and studies proved that exposure leads to deadly diseases such as lung cancer.

Currently, an asbestos ban in 55 countries is in effect. Despite its ban, asbestos is everywhere.

To this day, many buildings still have asbestos lurking in the walls. If you currently live in a home built before asbestos regulations had taken effect, it’s vital to check for signs of asbestos.

Where Does Asbestos Usually Hide?

There are a few areas in your home that are more likely to hold asbestos than others. For example, Bathrooms and kitchens were often built with asbestos in the floors because they’re water-resistant and helped prevent water damage from floods.

Asbestos may hide in your home’s exterior, too. Shingles for both roofs and siding were often installed with asbestos to help with insulation.

Pipes tend to hold asbestos because the material was once thought to prevent pipe corrosion and increase friction resistance. This is particularly dangerous because the asbestos can infiltrate drinking water.

Attics are another type of area where you’re likely to locate asbestos. This material was widely used to insulate attics and keep them fire-resistant. The type of asbestos used in attics has a pebble-like consistency, which is easy to spot.

An unexpected place where you may find asbestos is in HVAC ducts. Heating ducts installed before the phase-out may have asbestos insulation fibers. Asbestos fibers were an inexpensive way to fix and insulate pipes before deemed dangerous.

Asbestos-Related Diseases

Unfortunately, asbestos causes many dangerous lung conditions. Health conditions caused by asbestos are mostly seen in workers who constructed homes before the material was banned entirely.

Mesothelioma is commonly caused by asbestos. Other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are commonly caused by asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure doesn’t typically cause health issues immediately. It takes anywhere between 10 and 40 years to see the negative impacts of exposure. However, there are a few key symptoms to keep an eye out for.

A chronic dry cough is an indication that you’re regularly exposed to asbestos. In addition to constant coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness all point to asbestos exposure.

If you have any of these symptoms and you live in an older home, it’s best to start thinking of inspecting your home for asbestos exposure.

How to Identify Asbestos

Asbestos is made of microscopic fibers. Identifying it relies on more investigative work than looking at it. While you need professional help for proper confirmation and removal, there are several clues you can search for that help prove you have an asbestos problem.

If you spot any of these indicators, call a professional to help you take the next step towards identification.

Consider Your Home’s Age

The easiest way to rule out if you have asbestos in your home is to figure out when your home was built. If it was built before 1995, which was the last year before it was completely phased out, you need to take action.

Identify Your Home’s Insulation Material

If you have access to your home building certificate, take a look at the insulation material or codes cited on the record. If you’re unfamiliar with the types of insulation materials and codes, do a quick Google search to identify whether the material is made of asbestos.

Look for Clues

If you spot aluminum runners outside your home, that may indicate asbestos was used. These runners were used to implement asbestos materials and may occur along the sides of residential or commercial buildings.

On the interior of your home, look for “popcorn” walls and ceilings. This refers to walls and ceilings that have a bumpy texture.

Vinyl or linoleum tiles are other clues that point towards asbestos. Asbestos was often used as a bottom layer in vinyl tile construction as cheap insulation.

What to Do When You Identify Asbestos in Your Home

First and foremost, don’t interact with the asbestos you’ve spotted. Don’t renovate your home while asbestos is still in it. If you know you have asbestos, and it’s well-contained, it doesn’t pose an immediate threat.

Knocking down walls, drilling, or any other renovation work will cause asbestos exposure. Disturbing this mineral will spread its fibers in the air, leading to illness.

Visual confirmation is a good first step. But to confirm you have asbestos, you can’t rely on visual identification. You’ll need to send samples to a lab to verify whether or not the material you found in your home is asbestos.

To begin proper identification and removal, you need to request a professional asbestos removal service. Trained professionals quickly resolve your asbestos issue by safely sampling, removing, and disposing of the material.

The Next Steps

While there are several ways to identify asbestos on your own, getting rid of asbestos requires trained professionals. Don’t hesitate to take the next steps toward asbestos removal. Your health is counting on it!

Do you need help removing the asbestos in your home? Contact us and we’ll provide fast and reliable asbestos removal from your property.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *