What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a substance comprised of the small fibers of naturally occurring silicate minerals (rocks). It can be found in many parts of the world and used to be mined here in North America. Due to its resistance to electricity, corrosion, and heat, as well as its insulative qualities, asbestos was used for many years in everyday products and building supplies. Asbestos can help to strengthen paper, cloth, plastic, cement, and other similar materials, but these items can present a significant hazard once removed of damaged, specifically if they are a more friable (able to crumble or turn to powder) building material.


Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos has been determined to be highly detrimental to our health. It is an explicitly hazardous substance because of its small fibers, which are capable of remaining airborne for significant periods of time. When inhaled, the small fibers enter into the lungs and scar the tissue causing inflammation, lung disease, as well as cancer. Three of the most common conditions that can arise from asbestos exposure include:

  • Over time, inhaled asbestos fibers scratch and inflame the lungs creating scarring. This can cause breathing trouble, and coughing, as well as cancer and pulmonary heart disease.
  • Lung Cancer. Lung cancer as a result of asbestos exposure can drastically reduce life expectancy. On average, patients with asbestos-related lung cancer are given just 16 months, with only 18% surviving five years past their initial diagnosis.
  • This is a rare and particularly aggressive cancer that is caused when asbestos fibers become trapped in the body for a long period of time. In many cases, this cancer may not surface until roughly 40 years after direct contact with asbestos fibers.

When Does Asbestos Become Dangerous?

Asbestos can be contained in various products and not pose any immediate threat to human health. In a non-friable state, such as in the case of 9×9 floor tiles, asbestos fibers are entrapped with resins and cannot easily break apart under normal circumstances. However, when asbestos is in a more friable building material it can crumble easily, and fibers can be easily be released into the air and inhaled very quickly. You aren’t likely to cough or sneeze, or even realize that you’re breathing it in at all, which is why extreme care should always be taken when working around known asbestos products. The fibers are too small to see or feel, and you won’t taste them, either. The only way to successfully measure asbestos contamination is to conduct bulk sampling to measure the physical Asbestos content or air sampling tests which measures the number of asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter.

Whether or not you might be negatively impacted by asbestos depends on the duration of time you spend around airborne asbestos, as well as the concentration of fibers in the air. Inhalation versus ingestion also makes a difference, as can age, whether you smoke or not, and your overall health condition.

When Am I Likely to Encounter Asbestos?

In most cases, asbestos exposure occurs during building renovations or remodels when asbestos containing materials are disturbed or moved incorrectly. If your home or business is older than 1990, you could encounter asbestos in the Drywall Joint Compound(mud), plaster, insulation, caulking, textured ceilings, Lino and tile flooring, or other areas. If you’re unsure about whether your home or commercial building contains asbestos materials or don’t know how to protect yourself, the best course of action is to contact a professional abatement company to complete bulk sampling to determine the presents and percentage of asbestos containing materials.

Trust Asbestos Testing & Abatement to Ask Environmental

Homes constructed from approximately 1930 to 1990 could have used asbestos containing materials (ACMs), and it’s essential to have comprehensive testing completed before renovation work occurs so that any ACMs can be identified and removed properly. Ask Environmental provides complete asbestos testing and removal services to ensure that your home or business remains safe for your family, employees, guests, customers, and the general public. Our process involves thorough pre project sampling to determine the presence and friability of ACMs and stringent air sampling to determine the number of asbestos fibers in the air during the abatement process. This is a requirement of OH&S for all asbestos projects conducted in Alberta as it is a regulated Hazardous Materials. Once asbestos containing materials have been identified, our team will conduct safe abatement procedures with professional gear and equipment so that nothing is missed.

Our primary concern is protection of persons, and we’ll do everything we can to protect the current and future occupants of your home or business. We value the relationships that we have built over the past and will continue to provide support to our community by conducting bulk sampling prior to renovation work. Throughout our process, you can expect professionalism, transparency, and consideration for your space. If you have questions about asbestos products, would like to have testing completed, or are in need of asbestos removal and remediation services, contact Ask Environmental today and our team will develop a plan of action to keep you safe.