What Is Asbestos
Asbestos is a natural magnesium silicate mineral fiber that was regularly used as building materials used until the 1970s. Known for its durability, fire retardant, and heat-resistance elements that are perfect as an insulation board. You can find asbestos as part of foam for ceilings, tiles, roofs, pipes, and walls.
In 1973, EPA implemented the Clean Air Act that banned most asbestos spray products due to the health hazard. In 1989, the EPA extended the ban with Phase Out Rule act. With the new set of rules, EPA will gradually impose a full ban on the manufacturing, processing, and sale of asbestos products. So other than commercial cement board, asbestos is rarely seen in residential homes these days.
How Long Does Asbestos Stay In The Air
Asbestos will linger in the air between 48-72 hours even when there is no air movement. Because asbestos can easily friable when disturbed (sanding, cutting or drilling), it will break down into small fibers. The tiny fibers are very lightweight and become airborne with little push. If there is continuous airflow like a fan or air conditioner, asbestos fibers will stay afloat indefinitely unless there is an air purifier pulling it down.
How To Test For Asbestos In The Air
You could hire a professional to do the inspection through the OSHA Inspection Method. It is easy but will cost you between $200-500. Instead, just purchase an asbestos home test kit that you can do it yourself within a couple of minutes. First, pick the spot you want to do the testing. Then draw an air sample into the canister or tube from the test kit. Make sure to draw the amount exactly as what has been instructed in the manual. Finally, mail back the samples with the original box. We recommend Nirtue Labs home test kit as it accurate and will only cost you only around $25 including lab test. You should receive the result after 5 working days with instructions on what to do next.
Do Air Purifiers Get Rid of Asbestos?
Only an air purifier with True HEPA filter will be able to remove asbestos. On average asbestos fibers and particles range from 0.7 to 90 microns. This fits HEPA filter criteria as it can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency. If the air cleaner uses an inferior HEPA-type filter, it would still be able to capture most part of the fibers. Regardless of which types of HEPA filter, the air purifier must have airflow output to cover an entire room. Otherwise, there would not be enough airflow force to pull down the very lightweight fibers.
How to Prevent Asbestos Exposure In The Home
We all know HEPA air purifiers work, but there are other equally effective ways of protecting yourself from Asbestos. First and foremost, if you are staying in an old home dated before the 1970s, get it check for asbestos contamination. If there is no leakage issue, then you are left with 2 options. A) Do not disturb the asbestos materials by sealing it tight and avoid DIY renovation. Or B) Get it sorted for good by hiring a certified asbestos remover and contractor to remodel the entire house. Option B is long, costly, and painful, but it will give you peace of mind knowing your home is safe toxic-free.
Other no brainier actions include tossing away old items sprayed with asbestos paint. No smoking indoor as the chemical fumes does not mix well with asbestos fiber. Lastly, keep your home well-ventilated to reduce the concentration level of asbestos.
There are still an estimated 3500 different types of products containing asbestos. Most of these items have either obsolete, limited to commercial use or have a very low concentration level. But what happens if one breathes into asbestos once or twice? Probably nothing as if the concentration level of asbestos in the air is low. Nonetheless, keep an eye for the first sign of asbestos poisoning. You might experience:
- Tightness in chest
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Pleural thicken
- Finger clubbing (enlarged fingertips)
- Nail deformities
Most asbestos exposure would take between 10-20 years to developed Asbestosis. Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling to asbestos fibers. If the situation remains, Mesotheliomas would also occur between 20-50 years after prolonged exposure. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue from internal organs like lungs or chest.