What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a toxic mineral that was widely used in building materials until the 1980s. Exposure to asbestos can cause serious health problems, including cancer and respiratory diseases. In this guide, we will explore the dangers of asbestos exposure and the importance of removing it from your surroundings.

Where Do You Find Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral composed of thin, microscopic fibers. It has been widely used in various industries due to its desirable properties, such as heat resistance, electrical insulation, and durability. Asbestos fibers are flexible, resistant to fire, chemicals, and heat, and have excellent insulating properties.

Why is Asbestos Removal Important?

Asbestos can be very harmful to your health. In fact, it’s a carcinogen (a substance that can cause cancer). Asbestos is harmful primarily because of the microscopic fibers it releases into the air when disturbed. When these fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can cause serious health issues. Some of the potential health risks associated with asbestos include:
  • Respiratory problems: Inhalation of asbestos fibers is a major concern. Once inhaled, the fibers can become lodged in the lungs and respiratory system, causing various respiratory problems. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and lead to inflammation, scarring, and damage to lung tissues.
  • Lung cancer: Prolonged exposure to asbestos significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Asbestos-related lung cancer may occur in individuals who have never smoked. Smokers exposed to asbestos have a synergistic effect, further increasing their risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. Even brief exposure to asbestos fibers can potentially lead to mesothelioma, with symptoms often manifesting several decades after exposure.
  • Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition caused by the long-term inhalation of asbestos fibers. It results in the scarring and stiffening of lung tissues, impairing the ability to breathe properly. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, persistent cough, chest pain, and respiratory complications.
Given the severe health risks associated with asbestos exposure, it’s crucial to take precautions to prevent exposure, especially when dealing with asbestos-containing materials or in environments where asbestos may be present.

How to Identify Asbestos in Your Environment

Our experts have seen a wide variety of places with asbestos throughout the years. We find that older homes are more likely to have asbestos in them; that’s because regulations were put into place in 1979 that were setup to eliminate the use of asbestos products in buildings. Identifying asbestos requires caution and, in most cases, professional expertise. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and cannot be identified by sight alone. However, there are steps you can take to help determine if a material contains asbestos:
  1. Assess the age of the building: Determine the age of the building or the material in question. Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials until the late 1980s. If the material predates this period, it is more likely to contain asbestos.
  2. Conduct research: Research the history of the building, especially if it has undergone renovations or had materials replaced. Review construction plans, records, or documentation that may indicate the presence of asbestos-containing materials.
  3. Visual inspection: Look for materials around the building that were commonly manufactured using asbestos, such as insulation, flooring (especially vinyl floor tiles), ceiling tiles, roofing and siding, and textured paints.
  4. Consult professionals: It is strongly recommended to hire a licensed asbestos removal professional like Watkins. These professionals have the necessary training, equipment, and protocols to safely collect samples and accurately analyze them for asbestos content.

How to Remove Asbestos Safely & Effectively

Removing asbestos should always be handled by trained and licensed professionals due to the high health risks involved. Improper handling can release asbestos fibers into the air, endangering the health of yourself and your family. Plus, in California, a specialist is almost always required to complete an asbestos abatement project because the state upholds such strict regulations for it. If you suspect asbestos-containing materials need to be removed, first hire a reputable asbestos testing company to confirm the presence of asbestos (we can help with recommendations). Then, hire a professional like Watkins Environmental to perform asbestos removal. Our process is straightforward and efficient: just let us know what days and times are good for you and our experts will take care of the asbestos removal and disposal promptly. That’s all it takes!

Trust Watkins Environmental for Professional Asbestos Removal

As a C22, ASB, and HAZ Certified Asbestos Abatement Contractor, asbestos removal is our #1 performed service. We have over 25 years of experience in the field, making our team highly knowledgeable industry experts on the entire process. Contact us today for a free estimate or to ask a question about your specific project.