Asbestos was a popular material used in construction from the 1950s until late in the 1990s. When the government realized the harmful effects of this material, it was largely banned across the globe. However, several products still contain asbestos. Asbestos can cause serious health issues for those who come in contact with it. Skin, sinus, and lung irritation are just a few minor complications. But extended exposure or exposure to large amounts of asbestos can result to mesothelioma or several types of cancers, as well as other lung and breathing problems. To keep you and your fellow workers safe and healthy, it is important to know how to recognize asbestos and be prepared if you encounter it.
How to Recognize Asbestos
Before you head out for another project, take the time to look around for online pictures of asbestos. This will help you to recognize asbestos visually, so you can take the necessary steps to steer clear of it. Old buildings are the main culprits when dealing with asbestos. Asbestos is typically white, blue or red—but since asbestos can be mixed with other products, you may not be able to spot it right away. Insulation was one of the most popular products related to asbestos. Generally, old insulation that has fibers “dripping” off of it may contain asbestos. There are other construction materials that contain asbestos, including ceiling tiles, as well as roofing, wall, electrical, and flooring materials. Some appliances even contain asbestos. It is estimated that more than 3,000 products contain harmful amounts of asbestos. So it is important to familiarize yourself with this substance, in order to know how to spot and avoid it.
What to Do About Asbestos
If you find asbestos in a building or property, the first thing to do is don protective gear (including masks and gloves). Don’t reuse your protective gear. If possible, use hand tools instead of power tools. Doing so will keep dust down and prevent asbestos particles from entering your sinuses. Don’t eat, drink or smoke in an asbestos-contaminated area. Don’t use brooms to sweep debris, use a vacuum instead. When disposing of materials that contain asbestos, double-bag them. Label the bags properly and dispose of wastes in the proper facility. If you can, hire an asbestos removal professional to handle the proper disposal of asbestos-related materials. They are skilled and trained to do this task—which helps to protect you, your crew, and those who will ultimately occupy the building from danger.
No matter what type of project you are working on, it is important to be aware of the dangers of asbestos and to know how to recognize asbestos contamination. Take the proper steps to protect yourself and your crew. If you believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos, it is crucial to seek medical care right away. Knowledge is the best weapon to protect yourself and those around you, so don’t take your continuing education lightly!