What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is actually a mineral found in nature. There are six types of asbestos: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite, though chrysotile and amosite are the two most common types of asbestos. This mineral has strange natural properties, such as its fibrous nature and heat and fire resistant tendencies.

asbestos-materials

Asbestos History

Asbestos was commonly used in manufactured goods such as insulation, roofing materials, and tiling. It is abundantly found in nature and easily gathered through a process of mining. The asbestos mineral is found in rock, and Russia has rich supplies of the mineral, even supplying over half of the world’s store before research was done on the mineral and the materials created using asbestos. The natural fibers in the mineral made it attractive to manufacturers and the mineral was commonplace until the 1960’s.

Asbestos Health Hazards

asbestos-home-hazards

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In the 1930’s initial claims of asbestos being linked to cancer began to circulate throughout the medical community, however these claims did not truly take root until further testing during the 1960’s proved that the mineral causes DNA damage and irritation when inhaled or ingested by humans. This was devastating news considering the exposure undergone by thousands of people, from those who were employed by asbestos manufacturing plants to those who used the materials on a daily basis. Even families who lived in or people who worked in buildings insulated and tiled with the material were at risk.

Mesothelioma, Cancer & Nonmalignant Diseases

The health hazards of asbestos are now better understood, and range from malignant mesothelioma and cancer to nonmalignant diseases such as pleural plaques or effusions to a disease named after the mineral itself: asbestosis.

  • Asbestosis is a lung disease characterised by extreme fibrosis and a very severe medical risk of mesothelioma, or cancer of the pleura, or the membrane that surrounds the lungs.
  • Scientists have gone as far as to study the mineral asbestos to better understand the dangers, and asbestos today is a term for the materials made using the mineral more than for the mineral itself.
  • The asbestos materials release the mineral into the air, which means those who come in contact with it are in high risk of inhaling or ingesting the fibers.
  • During research, asbestos materials began to be distinguished into two different types: friable and non-friable.
  • A friable material would be something that can be crushed into a powder by hand, making that material even more at risk of being inhaled or ingested.
  • Non-friable materials would require extreme non-human force to crush, making them less risky, but still unsafe. Non-friable materials include tiling and mastics.

Asbestos Protection from Exposure During Flooring/Mastic Removals

  • Tiles and other materials that cannot be crushed into a powder by hand tend to be difficult to shatter, which means that these materials tend to hold their asbestos fibers inside.
  • Workers who are exposed to asbstos during flooring/mastic asbestos removals are not at a major risk of inhaling the mineral, but still are prohibited from using power tools to remove the tiling or mastics.
  • This is a precautionary measure, since using a jackhammer or other tool could potentially obliterate a hard material into a powder, thus releasing the carcinogenic fibers into the air. A special chemical is used to help remove the remaining mastic after scraping the concrete.
  • In addition to only using hand removal methods, the removal of any asbestos containing materials will be done so once the tiling or materials has been gotten wet.
  • This is to further discourage any loose asbestos particles from freely flowing through the air.
  • The removed tiling is treated as hazardous waste, and carefully packaged.
  • The materials are methodically disposed of, and no build-up of these toxic materials is permitted at a work site.
  • The people who are doing the work of hand removing the materials will wear protective respiratory gear as well as other protective gear, per government standards.
  • Workers who remove the materials are trained and certified to deal with the specifics of asbestos materials removal, as is the contractor from whom they work.

How To Remove Asbestos?

Locating Qualified Asbestos Contractors

A licensed asbestos removal contractor is essential in the removal of the carcinogenic materials. These professionals have attended classes that have educated them in depth about the dangers and characteristics of asbestos, and they understand the laws and policies that surround the removal and disposal of asbestos containing materials. The professional will first come to appraise the property, and inspect the flooring materials to determine what will need to be done throughout the building while giving a cost to remove asbestos floor tiles.

Asbestos Survey/Air testing

The initial asbestos survey of the building will contain a start date. The contractor or specialist will then come up with a personalised and methodical way of extracting and properly disposing of the materials. Oftentimes, there will be multiple workers with certifications and training in the proper handling of the materials, and the team will work together to achieve a fast and safe extrication. In addition to all the finer points that ensure a healthy and safe removal, these teams will possess specialized tools and personalised protection gear that offers them greater safety during their work.

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Hosing down the dangerous asbestos materials in a planned out and organised way is another professional precaution the licensed asbestos removal specialists will take. Using specialized chemicals and instruments, they will greatly reduce the risk of creating any airborne asbestos fibers. Not only have they been trained in the practice of hand removal of asbestos floor tiles, but these specialists also understand the finer laws behind the disposal of asbestos floor tiles.

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Asbestos Removal Cost

The removal of asbestos is a dangerous procedure with many complicated laws and practices that are not general knowledge and should be left to asbestos removal specialists. The professionals in this career field, while educated and certified in the art of asbestos removal, still risk their health and livelihood in order to eradicate this dangerous material. The cost of asbestos removal and proper legal disposal does not come cheap.

Find out more about the cost here

When Did They Stop Using Asbestos In Vinyl Flooring

Many types of vinyl flooring manufactured before 1980 contained asbestos, so if you had paper-packed vinyl flooring installed in your home before 1980, it is very like that your floor contains asbestos. After the 1980, asbestos was not used anymore in this type of flooring.

Asbestos Vinyl Tiles Removal

  • Review venting system for flaws.
  • Guarantee all joint and pipe connections are snug.
  • Check air intakes and ventilation systems to certify passages are unobstructed.
  • Check control settings. Test operating controls.
  • Test safety controls. Comprehensively examine heating structure and report any issues.
  • Examine and clean the boiler heat exchanger.
  • Inspect all boiler wirings and boiler connections.
  • Check water PH levels. Examine and clean condensate system.
  • Check and clean burner assembly.
  • Power flush system for optimum performance.
  • Check for correct boiler operation once the boiler has been cleaned and examined.
  • In addition to hard tiles containing the carcinogenic asbestos mineral, vinyl was paired with asbestos to help it become a more durable, fibrous material. This type of material was popular as flooring, and today the removal of the hazardous vinyl is a common procedure requested of asbestos removal contractors.
  • Vinyl is a plastic material that is not crushable by hand, which means that the asbestos containing vinyl is a non-friable material. This makes the removal of this material much simpler and less dangerous than the removal of a friable material, but still the material poses a low risk to handlers, and is considered to be more dangerous of a removal than that of tiles or even of asbestos containing wallpaper.
  • The original vinyl tiles were printed in large, one sheet stick on type patterns, which can make the removal more complicated since professionals are reluctant to slice into any asbestos containing material.

Vinyl Sheet Flooring Asbestos Backing

In addition to adding the asbestos mineral into the vinyl floor tiling, many manufacturers went as far as to include asbestos in the sticky backing of the vinyl floor sheets. This vinyl sheet flooring asbestos backing is considered friable despite the non-friable properties of the vinyl itself, which further encourages asbestos removal specialists to refrain from cutting into the vinyl. This material readily releases asbestos fibers when disturbed, and the fibers float through the air, making ingestion or inhalation of asbestos a danger to those nearby.

Further information

The American government has a faction known as the Department of Labor who has a department within them that is known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, for short. This institution has several departments that help focus on safety laws and regulations for laborers. These regulations span from payroll issues to the safe disposal of asbestos containing materials. OSHA has implemented several regulations pertaining to the safe handling of asbestos, as well as the disposal of the materials and the best procedures to undergo while dealing with the materials.

OSHA requires the use of personal protection suits. These suits are similar to hazardous materials suits, but are generally white instead of a neon color. Entranceways to a building that is undergoing asbestos removal must be marked with clear warning signs in an effort to keep the general public away from the carcinogenic asbestos that may be floating in the air.

The workers wear specialised respiratory masks designed to filter the air and prevent the intrusion of asbestos. These masks generally protect not only the worker’s mouth and nose, but also their eyes and ears. Often workers will bathe before leaving the premises of a work site, in an effort to rid their skin and hair of any potential asbestos floaters.

Conclusion

In conclusion, asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral found in nature that possess fibrous qualities as well as fire and heat resistant characteristics. These characteristics combined with the cheapness of the mineral made asbestos a staple in building materials for centuries.

Asbestos was extremely popular in tiling and flooring materials, and today there are specialized asbestos material removal contractors who remove asbestos linoleum, vinyl, and tile flooring. The removal of these materials is regulated by many different laws and labor organizations, and the workers must be educated on the specific practices used to remove the materials. Asbestos flooring and tiling materials are removed in a methodical and professional manner and disposed of in a safe and environmentally conscious way.

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