Avoiding the Health Hazard: How to Identify Asbestos in Your Office

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Before its health risks were well known, asbestos was widely used in a number of building materials. Now, it’s incredibly important to know how to identify asbestos in your office or home to protect your family and coworkers from potential health risks.

Read on to learn how you can visually approximate asbestos before getting it confirmed and analyzed at a laboratory! 

Why Use Asbestos? 

If it’s such a health hazard, why was asbestos used as a common building material throughout the 20th century? This is because it’s a mineral that’s inexpensive to extract in large quantities, and moreover, it was extremely effective. 

Mixed with other ingredients like cement or plastics, asbestos becomes a very strong material. It also provides insulation for acoustics and thermal properties. 

Even more importantly, it’s almost completely resistant to fire, harsh weather conditions, and can even withstand a chemical attack. 

Unfortunately, the health risks with this material weren’t as well known as they are today. To this day, asbestos is still found in older buildings. 

How to Identify Asbestos

From the 1930s to the 70s, asbestos was a commonly used mineral in building materials. Common places you can find asbestos in your home or office are:

  • Ceiling tiles
  • Cement roofing
  • Cement sheets
  • Duct/pipe insulation
  • Furnaces
  • Millboard
  • Rollboard
  • Roof shingles/felt
  • Sheetrock
  • Vermiculite attic insulation
  • Vinyl floor tiles

It’s difficult to identify asbestos through visual inspection alone. To 100% guarantee, there’s asbestos, a specialist will need to safely take a sample to a lab. Sources like this list will help you identify asbestos before contacting a specialist. 

However, you’ll know there’s a higher chance of asbestos depending on how old your home or office is. There are also some hard rules in place. You should assume any flooring material installed prior to 1980 contains the mineral. 

Products like vermiculite attic insulation have well-documented relations to asbestos contamination. Homeowners should also assume that vermiculite insulation always has asbestos. 

Whether you’re sure there’s asbestos contamination or not, homeowners should never attempt to removal on their own. This is because according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. 

Improper handling could release the mineral’s fibers into the air and create a health hazard for everyone in the area. 

A Safe Environment

This toxic material is still not banned in the United States. However, as of today, federal regulations reduced the amount of asbestos in construction and manufacturing from 800,000 tons in 1973 to only a few hundred tons.

Now that you know how to identify asbestos, you can have more peace of mind when undergoing renovations. Materials containing asbestos that haven’t been damaged pose no health risks. With this knowledge, you’ll have peace of mind whether you see damage or not. 

Want to read more about home improvement? Navigate to the House and Home section of UpGifs for more helpful tips and interesting articles! 

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