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What are the dangers of asbestos?

For many years, asbestos was used in buildings as a fireproof material. It is often found in insulation, floor tiles, joint compound and other areas in the home.

Asbestos is a dangerous material. In addition to being the only known cause of mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelial tissue), it can lead to other deadly diseases. Unfortunately, not every homeowner is aware of the dangers it poses.

Do you have asbestos in your home?

Breast cancer awareness is given plenty of coverage around the world, but cancer caused by asbestos is just as scary and life threatening.

For a long time asbestos was used in older homes. It’s a naturally occurring fibrous material and was once used in home construction for its fire retardant and thermal insulation properties. Despite these attributes, asbestos poses is a serious hazard to people’s health and causes thousands of deaths every year around the world.

Although now banned in South Africa, the asbestos legacy remains hidden in various shapes and forms, threatening lives at home and at work.

Its fibres are found in many materials used in home construction. It was often mixed with cement and can still be found in older homes, on roofs, gutters, pipes, boilers, ceiling tiles, insulation boards and many other products.

How to identify asbestos

It’s almost impossible to identify asbestos simply by looking at an item, which makes it difficult to locate it in your house.

Unfortunately, the easiest way to identify asbestos is also the most dangerous, because that means the asbestos fibres are exposed and could find their way into the air that you and your family breathe.

Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer. Since the level of exposure that may cause health problems is unknown, any amount to exposure to asbestos should be avoided at all costs.

If you discover an area in your home that may be made from asbestos but aren’t sure, you should treat it as though it contains asbestos. Have an asbestos removal specialist identify and remove all materials containing asbestos.

Common asbestos areas

Asbestos is commonly used in the following areas in the home:

1. In the roof space where asbestos insulation may be exposed.

2. Ceilings where boards or tiles are broken or crumbling.

3. In older homes with original drywalls.

Asbestos was also used in the manufacture of older-type panel heaters and stove insulation.

An asbestos sheet was a common roofing product from the 1940s until the mid 80s. It is estimated that at least one in every three buildings constructed between the 1940s and 1980s contains asbestos products.


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