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What is asbestos used for in the home?

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Asbestos in my home?!

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What is asbestos used for in my house?

Many kinds of asbestos have been used in the past in many different products. But since the 70’s, only asbestos chrysotile fibres are supposed to be used in asbestos-based products.

You can find asbestos in:

  • Insulating materials;
  • Floor coverings;
  • Household appliances.

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Why using asbestos, and asbestos chrysotile today, in different products?

They are used in residential buildings because they have special qualities such as thermal and acoustical insulation, fire protection, strengthening of other materials, and so on.

  • Insulating materials will resist to both heat and cold (ceilings, roofs, walls, furnace, pipe covering);
  • Floor covering will gain strength and will be more resistant to humidity, scratches and scuffmarks (vinyl tiles);
  • Household appliances will have a better resistance to heat (toasters, irons, deep-fryers, slow-cookers, dishwashers, refrigerators, oven, range hoods, clothes dryer, etc.).

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Should I worry about it?

Scientific and medical research has revealed that excessive exposure to inhaled asbestos dust can be dangerous to health. It should be noted, however, that the risks are generally related to exposure during handling of asbestos fibres in work environment.

Asbestos fibres are not harmful unless released in great quantity into the air. But today, the fibres used in buildings materials and household appliances parts are literally locked-in in a solid matter which effectively prevents fibres from being released. Moreover, the fibres used today are chrysotile fibres; they are much more less dangerous than amphiboles which were ban a long time ago.

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Nevertheless, asbestos-based materials already in your home are best left alone to avoid the releasing of fibres. There is no risk involved as long as the material is neither crumbly nor damage.

Damages or crumbly materials

Do-it-yourselfers who would like to remove or repair asbestos-containing materials should make sure they take the following precautions:

  • When stripping away material, remove whole pieces or fragments that are as large as possible. This is particularly easy in case of blocks of pipe insulation which are moulded to fit pipes closely. They can therefore be removed without breaking;
  • Wet the materials that are being removed, cut or drilled;
  • Place the removed material and the debris in plastic garbage bags. Tie the bags;
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust. The fibres and particles are small and might pass through normal filters and become, of course, airborne;
  • Clean the room or work area with wet mops or sponges. Repeat twice. Rinse the mops and sponges in running water in a sink or basin with a drain;
  • Never sand material containing asbestos, especially vinyl tiles and linoleum. Also, avoid tearing.

If there is any doubt, it is recommended to consult an building material expert.

For major renovation project, call a contractor. Don’t forget to verify its asbestos-handling experience. Discuss the preventive measures he plans to take.

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See also...

Health effects - A.I. research
Safe use manual