Asbestos

What is asbestos you ask? Well asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring silicate minerals that can be separated into fibers. The fibers are strong, durable, and resistant to heat and fire. They are also long, thin, and flexible, so that they can even be woven into cloth. Because of these qualities, asbestos has been used in thousands if consumer, industrial, maritime, automotive, scientific and building products. During the twentieth century, some 30 million tons of asbestos were used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings in the United States.

There are several types of asbestos fibers, of which three have been used for commercial applications: (1) Chrysotile, or white asbestos, comes mainly from Canada, and has been very widely used in the US. It is white-gray in color and found in serpentine rock. (2) Amosite, or brown asbestos, comes from southern Africa. (3) Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, comes from southern Africa or Australia. Amosite and crocidolite are called amphiboles. This term refers to the nature of their geologic formation. Other asbestos fibers that have not been used commercially are tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite, although they are sometimes contaminants in asbestos-containing products.

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What are asbestos containing products? What is common to many asbestos-containing products is that they were used to contain heat (i.e. thermal insulation). It is impossible to list all of the products that have, at one time or another, contained asbestos. Some of the more common asbestos-containing products are pipe-covering, insulating cement, insulating block, asbestos cloth, gaskets, patching materials, thermal seals, refractory and boiler insulation material, transit board. Some more materials are asbestos cement pipe, fireproofing spray, joint compound, vinyl floor tile, ceiling tile, mastics, adhesives, coatings, acoustical textures, duct installation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, roofing products, insulated electrical wire and panels, and brake and cloth assemblies. Some of these products contained a very high proportion of asbestos, while others contained small amounts.
Some people may ask why is asbestos still a problem. Well asbestos is still a problem. Its because a great deal of it has been used In the United States and elsewhere. Also because many asbestos containing products remain in buildings, ship, industrial facilities and other environment where the fibers can become airborne, and because of the serious human health hazards of inhaling asbestos fibers.

Asbestos in the home can be very dangerous. It is very common for homes built or remodeled before the 1970s to have asbestos-containing materials in them. During the twentieth century, about 30 million tons of asbestos fibers were used in the United States, and some of this asbestos ended up in residential buildings. If you have purchased a home or are considering the purchase of one, the presence of asbestos is nor necessarily a problem. The majority of individuals with asbestos related diseases have been in the business of manufacturing, installing and/or removing asbestos products. Fortunately, most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos do not develop asbestos related health problems. However, there is no known safe level of exposure, therefore, all exposure to asbestos should be avoided.
The worst possible place asbestos can be is in your school. Asbestos containing products were used extensively in the construction of schools and other public buildings in the 1970s. In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to protect public and private school children and school employees from asbestos exposure. AHERA acknowledges that asbestos materials in schools that are intact generally do not pose a health risk, and includes provisions to monitor the condition of asbestos containing materials, to manage the materials, and to keep open the lines of communications between all interested parties. The provisions of AHERA are relevant for schools in the United States and its possessions. Provisions of AHERA: each school must designate and train a person to oversee asbestos related activities in the school. This person can be a consultant or a school employee.
All buildings must be inspected for the presence of asbestos containing material. A management plan for controlling asbestos exposure must be developed, using accredited inspection personnel to implement the plan. All records should be available for public review. All teachers, parents and employees should be informed annually about the asbestos related activities in the school. In the past, school districts have been fined for failing to meet provisions of AHERA. This is not, however, an area of litigation that this law office handles.

If you do not dispose asbestos the proper way, you can be in serious danger. All asbestos waste and the disposable clothing, filters, equipment, and building materials, which are not to be cleaned and reused, must be disposed of as asbestos waste. The material must be in double plastic bags, labeled as asbestos, hauled to an approved asbestos landfill in a covered vehicle, and disposed of according to EPA, state and local regulations. The contractor or homeowner should contact the health department or air pollution control agency in the area where the asbestos removal is to take place to determine local notification, removal, and disposal requirement sites.
How to dispose of asbestos the proper way:
1. Place all dampened filters, cloths, mop heads and other asbestos wastes into a transparent (6 mil) plastic bag. Seal the bag with heavy-duty tape. Place the first bag into a second bag.

2. If the bags are not already preprinted, label the bags with a sign: DANGER; CONTAINS ASBESTOS FIBERS, AVOID CREATING DUST, CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD. The sign should be placed between the two transparent plastic bags. Seal the second bag with heavy-duty tape.
3. Place the sealed and labeled bags with other solid waste material for pick-up and delivery to an approved waste disposal site. Asbestos waster materials should be disposed of according to federal and local regulations.
Health concerns are very important when you are talking about asbestos. Asbestos tends to break down into a dust of microscopic size fibers. Because of their size and shape, these tiny fibers remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can easily penetrate body tissues after being inhaled or ingested. Because of their durability, these fibers can remain in the body for many years and thereby become the cause of asbestos related diseases.
Symptoms of these diseases generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years after the exposure. Therefore, long before its effects are detectable, asbestos related injury to the body might have already occurred. There is no safe leave of exposure known that therefore exposure to friable asbestos should be avoided. Remember that the asbestos fibers that would cause health problems are much too small to be seen without a powerful microscope. In fact, an average hair is approximately 1200 times thicker than an asbestos fiber. It is important that you not release fibers into the air or onto yourself when taking samples. Only you should be in the room when sampling is accomplished.
Repairing asbestos. Where and how to repair asbestos is different is all places. Pipe, furnace, and boiler insulation: when the insulation material will move at the touch of the hand or cover no longer feels firm and tight, the insulation is probably too deteriorated for repair. For material in this condition, call a professional. Repair by the homeowner should only be attempted, if at all, where the insulation is firm and cover tight, and there should be a minimum of holes or tears in the insulation (for example, no more than a one inch diameter opening in four lineal feet of pipe covering). For minor damaged areas such as this, you can obtain commercial products designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas in asbestos pipe insulation. These products area available from safety store suppliers.
In conclusion, asbestos is not something you want to mess with. It is very dangerous to your health and life. If you have asbestos, do not mess with it; always contact a professional who knows what they are dealing with.
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