Asbestos

Asbestos is a category that constitutes a number of naturally occurring fiber-like materials that are useful in construction material because of properties such as: high tensile strength, insulation, and flame resistance. It was used extensively in construction until asbestos usage was banned in 1977.

Asbestos is a problem when it is released into the air. It is dangerous when inhaled since the asbestos fibers remain and gradually accumulate in the lungs. High concentrations of asbestos in the air will not result in immediate symptoms but will have long-term health effects including chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases.


Materials where asbestos can be found:

Water Pipes Boilers Kitchen Tabletops & Walls
Steam Pipes Wood/Coal Stoves Vinyl Floor Tiles
Cement Pipes Furnace & Ducts Roof Shingles

Reasons to test for asbestos:

      • The home you live in is built before the 1980s.
      • You are looking to purchase an older home.
      • You are considering remodeling/renovation.
      • You suspect asbestos air contamination.

Testing

Diagnosis:

  1. If asbestos containing objects are in good condition, it is not necessary to take any action.
  2. If asbestos containing objects are clearly damaged or deteriorating, the EPA recommends hiring a licensed asbestos contractor to inspect the materials. Avoid contact with the objects in question.

Solutions

Do not disturb asbestos containing materials if they are undamaged. If the asbestos fibers are left sealed in a material and not airborne, they do not pose a health-risk.

Before house remodeling, find out whether or not asbestos is present in your house.

If carrying out any task that may disturb asbestos, contact qualified contractors.

If there is an asbestos contamination problem:

    • Sealing (encapsulation): This process involves treating the source asbestos source with a sealant that either coats the material so that asbestos fibers cannot be released or binds the asbestos fibers together.
    • Covering (enclosure): This process involves encasing the offending material. For example, pipes containing asbestos may be enclosed with sheet rock/plaster construction.

Contact a professionally trained contractor. It is recommended that professionals handle both minor and major repairs. Attempting to resolve the situation yourself may exacerbate the asbestos pollution.

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Cambridge, MA 02142
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