Asbestos insulation is used in many homes, schools, and workplaces. It is made up of tiny fibres that can stick to your lungs if you inhale them. If not removed from the lungs, these fibres can cause serious health problems like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
What does Asbestos look like? The most common type of Asbestos is white, but it can also be blue, brown, or black. It is often found in pipe insulation, floor tiles, and ceiling tiles. Asbestos fibres are tiny, and they can be hard to see. One of the most dangerous materials found in homes is Asbestos. Asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma can all be caused by disturbing and breathing asbestos fibres.
Asbestos can be found in various components in older homes, including pipe insulation, flooring glue, and roof shingles. Attic and wall insulation are two of the most frequent materials that contain asbestos fibres. However, just because your insulation is outdated does not make it unsafe. In truth, some materials appear to be Asbestos but aren’t Asbestos.
Why Is Asbestos Insulation Hazardous?
There’s no denying that inhaling asbestos fibres can negatively influence your health and safety. The widespread use of asbestos in the insulation of many homes in the early 1900s resulted in a slew of health problems among employees and homeowners.
Asbestos fibres can cause various unpleasant symptoms, including coughing, breathing issues, loss of appetite, and chest pain, depending on the amount and frequency of inhalation. These symptoms don’t always appear right away; they can take years to manifest. Long-term health conditions, such as the following, can develop if the problem is not identified.
- Lung Cancer
Asbestos Insulation in Common Places in your Home
In older homes, asbestos insulation is standard. But where do you think you’ll find it? In general, asbestos-containing material can be found in any insulated area of your property. Check the places most prone to heat transfer when looking for and trying to find asbestos insulation. Insulation material, which may include Asbestos, can be found there.
Asbestos insulation is typically found in the home’s less apparent areas, such as the following: Attics, Basement, Crawl spaces, Closets, Walls, Floors, and Ceilings. Although some asbestos materials, such as vermiculite insulation, may be recognized visually, others can be complicated.
Possibly Asbestos-Containing Insulation
Vermiculite insulation and asbestos pipe insulation are the two most frequent asbestos-containing insulation found in homes.
Insulation Using Vermiculite
Loose-fill insulation, often known as blown-in insulation, was the most popular asbestos insulation. Loose-fill insulation is available in a wide range of materials, and it’s easy to spot thanks to its lumpy, loose texture and fluffy or granular texture. Unlike some (but not all) batt and blanket insulation, loose-fill insulation never contains paper or other types of backing.
If you find loose-fill insulation in your attic or walls, the next step is to figure out what type of material it is, as only particular varieties may contain Asbestos. One of the most popular asbestos-containing household materials is vermiculite loose-fill insulation.
Vermiculite insulation looks like pebbles and is usually grayish-brown or silvery-gold in colour. It’s made of a natural mineral mined from the ground. When heated, the mineral swells, forming the light, stony-looking particles that make up the insulation.
The majority of asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation in the United States came from a mine near Libby, Montana, which operated until 1990. Asbestos was found in the raw vermiculite material extracted from the mine. This type of insulation accounts for more than 70% of the vermiculite insulation used in American homes.
Because the Libby mine closed in 1990, asbestos-containing insulation may be found in homes built or rebuilt before that date. If your home was built after 1990, the chances of asbestos-contaminated insulation are less likely, but not zero.
Pipe Insulation Using Asbestos
Asbestos-containing insulation may be wrapped over pipes in basements, furnace rooms, utility rooms, and other service sections of the home.
Pipe insulation is off-white or grey and resembles corrugated cardboard or paper. The insulation will be completely wrapped around the pipes, with an outer casing to keep it in place.
Asbestos pipe insulation has a corrugated edge, which is usually a red flag containing Asbestos. If the pipe insulation were fibreglass, tufts of fibreglass would protrude from the edge.
Insulation That Isn’t Asbestos-Containing
Batt or blanket fibreglass insulation, cellulose insulation, loose-fill insulation, and rock wool insulation are three prevalent types of household insulation that do not contain Asbestos and are deemed safe.
Batt or Blanket Insulation
You don’t have to worry about Asbestos if your attic or wall insulation is in batt or blanket form, whether fibreglass, cellulose, or another material.
It’s most likely cellulose insulation if your loose-fill insulation is grey, mushy, and lacks a sheen. Cellulose is made out of a lot of recycled paper and doesn’t include any minerals. In general, it appears like shredded grey paper. Cellulose insulation is an entirely safe material that is frequently blown into attics. 5 It’s also available as batts and blankets.
Fibreglass with a Loose Fill
It’s a fibreglass fill if your loose-fill insulation is white, fluffy, and has a slight gloss. Fibreglass has a small sheen when exposed to bright light because it is a glass product. It has a delicate, almost cotton candy-like texture and is made of beautiful fibres.
Rock Wool Insulation
Rock wool is mineral-based loose-fill insulation that is frequently confused with asbestos-containing insulation. The texture of rock wool is fibrous, soft, and cottony.
Gray, white, off-white, or brownish-white are the most common colours of rock wool. It’s an artificial substance formed from the melting of basaltic rock and dolomite with the addition of binders. The raw material is heated to 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit until it melts, then air pressure is used to spin the molten substance into fibres. Installing rock wool as loose insulation or woven insulation batts is an option.
How to Safely Identify Asbestos Insulation?
According to studies, there is no such thing as a safe level of asbestos exposure. As a result, if you find insulation in your home that you suspect contains harmful material, you should not attempt to remove it or inspect it thoroughly on your own. Instead, consult a specialist if you suspect an area may be contaminated with Asbestos, significantly if the material is damaged.
It is a good rule of thumb when it comes to asbestos insulation. However, Asbestos may be found in more than just your home’s insulation. It’s critical to have a sample of Asbestos found in your ceiling, floor tiles, or anywhere else in your home evaluated by a certified lab.
How to Tell the Difference between Cellulose and Asbestos Insulation?
The two materials are quite different in terms of their chemical makeup and physical properties. Cellulose comprises long-chain carbohydrates, while Asbestos is a mineral composed of thin, fibrous crystals. Asbestos insulation is much more resistant to heat and fire than cellulose insulation, making it a better choice for applications where fire safety is a concern. However, Asbestos is also much more harmful to human health, and its use is now heavily restricted in many countries. If you are unsure which type of insulation you have, it is best to have it professionally tested before attempting to remove or disturb it.
What Should you Do with Asbestos Insulation in your Home?
If the visual clues for Vermiculite are present in your loose-fill insulation, the first step is to avoid disturbing it. When asbestos fibres are airborne and can be inhaled, they are the most deadly. 2 The risk of exposure is considerably reduced when insulation is left undisturbed.
You can check for Asbestos in the insulation with an asbestos testing kit or send a sample to an accredited testing facility. If you find asbestos-containing insulation, you can either leave it alone or get it removed by a local asbestos abatement business.
Don’t Take the Chance of Being Exposed to Asbestos
Asbestos fibres can be released when asbestos-containing products deteriorate overtime or get disturbed or damaged, posing severe health concerns. These fibres can be breathed into your lungs once they’ve been released.
Asbestos fibres can build up in your lungs over time, leading to lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung and abdominal cavity lining.
Reduce your chances of being exposed to Asbestos. It is highly suggested that you schedule asbestos testing with professionally qualified personnel specializing in managing hazardous materials before beginning any remodelling or renovation job.
Asbestos insulation can be identified by its white, fluffy appearance. It is a hazardous material that was once commonly used in buildings for its fire-resistant properties but has since been banned due to the health risks. If you are unsure whether or not your insulation contains Asbestos, it is best to have it tested by a professional.