Infectious Insulation: The Dangers of Asbestos

Friday, July 27, 2018Kathleen Zimmerman

Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring rock forming minerals. Deriving from the ancient Greek meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”, this fibrous material
was first used by manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century for it’s physical properties like sound absorption and resistance to fire, heat, and electricity. The fibers were often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos is fire and heat resistant and therefore also used as electrical and building insulation.

Use of asbestos continued through most of the 20th century until the knowledge of health hazards from asbestos dust made it unlawful for use in mainstream construction in most countries. Inhalation of fibers can be harmful resulting in lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and even death.

So WHO is at risk? Demolition workers, drywall removers, asbestos removal workers, firefighters, and automobile workers may be exposed to asbestos fibers. Studies evaluating the increased cancer risk by automobile mechanics exposed to asbestos through brake repair are limited, but the overall evidence suggests there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. As a result of government regulations and improved work practices, today’s workers, without previous exposure, are likely to face smaller risks than did those exposed in the past. Although it is clear that the health risks from asbestos increase with heavier exposure and longer exposure time, investigators have found asbestos-related diseases in individuals with only brief contact. Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after exposure. It can take from 10 to 40 years or more for symptoms of an asbestos-related condition to appear.

Outside of the construction & automobile industry, there was a shocking article released by CNN in 2015 where asbestos was found in children’s crayons. No children were reported to have been effected and stricter regulations on toys were put into place. Another article found on in March 2018 highlights an FDA investigation into a makeup line reported to have tremolite asbestos contamination.

In the United States, the EPA strictly governs the removal and disposal of asbestos. Companies that remove asbestos must comply with EPA licensing. These companies are called EPA licensed asbestos contractors. Anytime one of these asbestos contractors performs work, a test consultant must conduct strict testing to ensure it is completely removed.

Rolyn’s licensed professionals make arrangements for the appropriate abatement and disposal of asbestos. We perform our projects in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations. Our specializations include:

  • Coordinating material testing and work protocol
  • Asbestos removing, disposing, and encapsulating
  • Performing waste containment
  • Air monitoring and final sampling

While minerals are typically not hazardous, asbestos is an exception. Even though not as widely used today, the material still poses significant health risk.

About the Author

Kathleen Zimmerman
Account Manager

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