All Posts Tagged: asbestos facts

Dangers of Homeowners Removing Asbestos

Some of the most common issues we see when testing for asbestos happen during the home-buying and selling process. If you’re gearing up to put your house on the market, or if you’re looking to purchase a new home, here’s what you absolutely need to know about asbestos dangers, testing, and removing asbestos.

Should You DIY When Removing Asbestos?

No! After the asbestos testing homeowners may need remediation, but all too often, instead of hiring a professional asbestos abatement company, many sellers try removing asbestos themselves. This creates problems when the buyer then asks for a certificate of removal from an abatement company, and the seller doesn’t have any proof to provide.

Not only is this a major headache for both parties, but it is also very dangerous for everyone involved, as well as the general public. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) need to be disposed of in an asbestos landfill. Otherwise, the public could be exposed to these harmful particles, not to mention you, your family, and the next family who lives in this home.

Moreover, if you try to DIY when removing asbestos, it is very likely that asbestos could still be present in your home, despite your best efforts. If a second air quality test still indicates asbestos, you’ll need to start all over again with the removal process.

Why It Pays to Hire a Professional

The upfront costs of selling a home can be a bit daunting, especially when you’re hit with a positive asbestos testing and are now faced with the process of removing asbestos. However, hiring a professional asbestos testing inspectors and abatement companies now will end up saving you time and money in the long run.

As in the example explained above, the cost of professional asbestos removal now will be offset by the money you’ll save later when you go to sell your home and don’t have to scramble to get a certification of removal, which would require you to go through the entire process all over again, as well as delay the sale of your home.

What to Look for in Asbestos Testing and Abatement Companies

Another thing to watch out for when dealing with asbestos inspection and removal is fraudulent or unqualified individuals trying to pass their services off as “professional.” Don’t be fooled by too-good-to-be-true pricing, or “under the table” work. The only way to get accurate, certifiable asbestos testing results is to work with a certified asbestos testing company.

Similarly, don’t hire just anyone to remove asbestos-containing materials if your testing comes back positive. Unless you use a professional asbestos removal company, you won’t be able to provide future buyers proof that these materials were effectively and safely removed from the home.

If you still have questions about asbestos testing or removal, feel free to contact IRIS online or give us a call at 1-800-908-6679. You can also read through our FAQ page to learn a little more about the asbestos inspection process and how results are reported.

Read More

Chrysotile Asbestos Threatens Schools, and Businesses

Contrary to popular belief, Chrysotile asbestos is far from being a thing of the past. Although regulations are now in place that prohibits the use of some asbestos-containing materials (although not all) in new construction, any home, school, business, or other structure that was built before 1980 is likely to still contain ACM’s.

If disturbed, ACM’s can release microscopic particles into the air, leading to serious health concerns. Chrysotile and other types of asbestos have been linked to a form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma, as well as a serious non-cancerous lung disease called asbestosis.

What Is Chrysotile?

Chrysotile also called “white asbestos” or “serpentine asbestos” is the most common type of asbestos that is still found in homes, schools, businesses, and even ships. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 95% of all asbestos found today is chrysotile. Like other types of asbestos, which include actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and tremolite, chrysotile poses a serious health risk if its tiny fibers are released into the air and inhaled through your lungs.

Thus, asbestos-containing materials on their own are not necessarily a hazard to your health, but if you are planning a demolition or renovation project that could disturb these ACM’s, you’ll need to have the area inspected and tested for asbestos first. If found, a professional asbestos remediation company should come in and safely remove the materials before your project moves forward.

How to Tell If There Is Asbestos In Your Home, School, or Business

One of the most common questions people ask about asbestos detection is, “Can’t I just look around for asbestos in my home or business?” Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just look for asbestos, because it is impossible to tell with the naked eye whether or not a material contains asbestos fibers.

Asbestos is considered to be a hazardous material, so any school, business owner (among other occupations that may expose you to asbestos)  or overseer of a demolition or renovation project needs to have the space-tested by a trained professional and properly remediated if asbestos is found. Once ACM’s are professionally removed, an environmental laboratory can provide a final air quality test to ensure that all traces of asbestos particles are, indeed, removed from the space.

About IRIS Environmental Laboratories

IRIS Environmental Laboratories is a fully accredited lab with certified experts in the field of asbestos testing, mold testing, air quality testing, and other environmental testing services. We are committed to providing each and every client with the highest-quality environmental testing available and at an affordable price. IRIS Environmental Laboratories understands that the health and safety of you and your family mean everything to you, so we go out of our way to ensure the best possible testing and consulting services to keep your family safe.

If you’d like more information about IRIS Environmental Laboratories or how to take the first step to have your home, school, or business tested for asbestos, please feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 1-800-908-6679.

Read More

Harmful Textured Ceiling Tiles and Drywall

Covering Your Textured Ceiling Tiles with Drywall is Not Safe

If your home features those so-called “cottage cheese” or “popcorn” ceiling tiles that were popular in homes built in the 50s up until the 80s, you might be looking for easy solutions to update the space. If you’re selling your home, you may be asked to have your textured ceiling tiles tested for asbestos prior to closing.

Although covering up these unsightly ceiling tiles with drywall might sound like the easiest and most convenient solution, unfortunately, this is not safe. Here’s what you need to know about the potential health risks of textured ceilings and how to safely get rid of them.

What Makes Textured Ceiling Tiles Harmful?

As with many other types of building materials that were commonly used in homes and other structures built prior to 1980, textured ceiling tiles are known to contain asbestos. The good news is that if left undisturbed, this asbestos is not considered a health risk. However, as soon as you go to remove these ceiling tiles, the tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air and can be a very serious threat to your health when breathed into your lungs.

The most serious health effect of asbestos exposure is the development of a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma.

Why Covering with Drywall Isn’t a Safe Solution

Whether you’re trying to sell your home or are simply looking to do a little updating, covering popcorn ceiling tiles with drywall is not a safe option. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the process of putting up drywall requires surface abrasion and nailing, which can disturb the underlying textured ceiling tiles and release dangerous asbestos particles into the air.

The second reason why this is not a good solution is that new homeowners who don’t realize that there may be asbestos-containing materials under the drywall ceiling could be at risk for asbestos exposure should they go to remodel the home.

How to Have Your Home Tested for Asbestos

So what should you do if you have “cottage cheese” ceiling tiles that you want or need to get rid of? The first and most important step is to have the materials tested for asbestos. Although there are DIY asbestos testing kits out there, the most accurate and effective way to have your home tested is to contact a professional asbestos testing company.

A certified, trained professional will first inspect your home for possible asbestos-containing materials. Then samples of the materials, including textured ceiling tile, will be sent to the environmental laboratory to be tested for asbestos. If the results show that the tiles do contain asbestos, the next step is to have them removed by a trained professional to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including the new homeowners if you are selling.

How Do I Get Started with Asbestos Inspection?

When hiring an asbestos inspector, it is important that you choose a qualified professional to avoid inspector fraud and get the most accurate results. If you still have questions about how to begin to the asbestos inspection process, contact IRIS Environmental Laboratories online, or give us a call at 1800-908-6679.

Read More

Asbestos Found in Children’s Makeup

According to a recent report published just a few days ago by CNN, asbestos was found in several eye shadow and other makeup products marketed towards children from international beauty giant Claire’s. Since the revelation, the company has pulled nine products off its shelves while awaiting third-party asbestos testing results.

So what is asbestos, why is it so dangerous, and what can you do to make sure your family’s makeup and personal care products are safe? Here are some of your most frequently asked questions answered.

What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally-occurring minerals that were once widely used in building materials and other products due to their incredible insulating and heat- and flame-resistant qualities. However, it has been found that exposure to asbestos particles poses a serious risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer, as well as other health risks.

Although many products are no longer manufactured using asbestos, the effects of asbestos inhalation can take years or even decades to present themselves. Moreover, children and adults alike are still being exposed to this dangerous substance, even in unlikely places like makeup, paints, toys, and other products. The fact of the matter is that people are still dying from asbestos exposure.

How Does Asbestos Wind up in Makeup?
The asbestos that was reportedly found in some Claire’s eye shadow products is most likely linked with contaminated talcum powder, although the company claims that the talcum powder that it uses in its makeup products is safely sourced from Europe.

Nonetheless, talcum powder can be contaminated with a type of asbestos known as tremolite, which is exactly what preliminary tests found in some Claire’s eye shadows. Once these tests are completed, Claire’s has stated that it will then “take the necessary action.”

Asbestos-contaminated talcum powder has also fairly recently been found in some children’s art
supplies and toys, making this a growing problem, despite the fact that we are now well-aware of the risks of asbestos exposure, especially to children.

Can You Have Your Makeup Products Tested for Asbestos?
Yes! Although Claire’s has since pulled the items in question off its shelves until the results of additional asbestos testing come back, you can take an active role in protecting yourself and your family from unknowingly being exposed to asbestos. Environmental testing labs like IRIS Environmental Laboratories can test makeup products for asbestos particles, so one option would be to send a sample of the makeup you’d like to have tested to our lab so that you can know for sure whether or not your children could be in danger of asbestos exposure.

How Can I Get More Information?
If you still have questions about what asbestos is or how you can have your makeup products tested for asbestos, please feel free to contact us online or by phone at (908) 206-0073.
Asbestos inhalation can lead to serious health problems, so catching and stopping exposure as early as possible is the key to reducing these risks and keeping your family safe.

Read More

How Can Asbestos Affect Your Child’s Future?

When most people think of asbestos exposure, an image of an older person who may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials (ACMs) decades ago is typically what first comes to mind. But the reality is that any home or other structure that was built prior to 1980 could still contain asbestos, meaning that you and your family could still be at risk for asbestos exposure.

What’s even more concerning is that asbestos exposure at a young age can pose serious health risks as your child develops, although the first recognizable signs might not show up until 20 years later. Fortunately, as a parent, there are some steps you can take to help minimize this risk and keep your family safe.

Recognizing the Risks of Asbestos Exposure in Children

The main health risk that asbestos poses for both adults and children is the potential to develop mesothelioma—a specific form of lung cancer—and other types of cancers later in life. With children, however, this risk is even greater, as their lungs and respiratory system are still in the developing stages.

In addition, according to the Children’s Environmental Health Project, children are at a greater risk for breathing in harmful particles, including asbestos fibers, because their smaller lungs have a higher surface area to volume ratio than do adults. Children also have a faster breathing rate than adults, which means that they can breathe in even more potentially dangerous particles with each breath.

Finally, children also tend to put their fingers in their mouths without thinking about what might be on them, so it is possible that they could accidentally ingest asbestos fibers if they’ve touched or played with materials that contain asbestos particles.

Preventing Asbestos Exposure in the Home

To minimize the risk that you or your family members could be exposed to asbestos fibers, you should first determine if your house contains any of these building materials that commonly contain asbestos:

  • Laminate floor tiles
  • Stucco
  • Cement sheet
  • Boiler, furnace, or pipe insulation
  • Original roof shingles, ceiling tiles, or siding

If your home was built before 1980 and contains these materials, there is a good chance that there may be asbestos in your home. Before you panic, though, know that the real danger of ACMs is when these materials are disturbed and therefore can release the dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. Because of this, the best way to handle ACMs in your home is to avoid touching or removing these materials and call in a professional asbestos testing laboratory.

Your home can be tested for asbestos in three simple steps. First, a trained and certified professional will conduct a thorough inspection of your home, as well as perform an air quality test if needed. Next, samples will be taken and sent to the asbestos testing lab, which will then provide you with an easy-to-understand report.

If the results of your testing find that there are asbestos containing materials in your home, you are encouraged to hire a professional asbestos remediation company to safely remove the dangerous materials. Once all remediation is complete, your asbestos testing company will perform a Clearance Air test to make sure that all traces of asbestos particles have been removed from your home.

Not only is this a much safer way of dealing with asbestos in your home than trying to tackle the problem yourself, but working with a professional asbestos testing lab will also give you the peace of mind that you and your children are safe in your own home. Contact our Lab to receive more information or to answer any questions you may have. Our Certified Field Inspectors are ready to tackle any job you may have. There’s no need for you to do this alone.

Read More
5 health risks caused by asbestos

5 Health Risks Caused By Asbestos

5 health risks caused by asbestosAsbestos is a building material that was used pretty widely across the U.S. prior to the 1980s. It was then that asbestos was thought of as a solution to various industries to help build homes. However, there are health risks caused by asbestos. 

Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring fibrous minerals. It’s strong and heat resistant. This made is popular in building materials such as including building and pipe insulation, and friction products.

It wasn’t until after years of use that it was deemed seriously dangerous, even deadly to those exposed to it. Asbestos is a serious health risk and can cause harm. If you think you might have been exposed to asbestos or live in a home where you suspect asbestos, read this article to learn 5 health risks caused by asbestos.

Health Risks Caused By Asbestos

Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is cancer of the larynx, also known as the voice box. Researchers have suspected that people who inhaled asbestos got it’s fibers lodged into the voice making its way to the lungs. The fibers cause irritation which eventually lead to cancer.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a lung disease that is said to be caused by scarring of the lung tissue. Exposure the asbestos can cause a person to breath in the dangerous fibers. The fibers will attach themselves to the lung walls and over time cause scarring. Over time the lungs will become irritated and the tissue becomes thick. This can be painful causing chest pains and shortness of breath.

Clubbed Fingers

People with asbestosis often develop clubbed fingers. This is actually an early sign of the disease where the tips of the fingers are swollen and look like a square shape. This happens when there is a dangerously low blood levels of oxygen.

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques are caused by deposits of fiberglass and rock left from the asbestos. The pleura contains two layers: An inner layer that lines the lungs, and an outer layer that lines the ribs. The presence of asbestos fibers can cause these layers to inflame and rub against each other, a condition called pleuritis. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease and serious medication is required for treatment.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, it affects the inner linings of organ walls in the chest and the stomach. Typically this is caused to exposure to asbestos is the work place, but you may not notice symptoms until years later, sometimes as late as 30 years past the time of exposure.  To date there is no cure for this disease.

Avoiding Asbestos Exposure

Since asbestos is banned from use, newer homes may not be in danger of containing any remnant of the substance. However, it is important to keep away from asbestos if you suspect it in your home or workplace. There are safety procedures set in place to evaluate the area in question and do proper asbestos testing. From there it’s important to understand the information on asbestos give from the testing lab. Once this is given talk to a professional about whether the asbestos needs to be removed and if it is a threat to your health.

Read More

5 Asbestos Facts You Didn’t Know

5 Asbestos Facts You Didn’t KnowBecause of its fire- and water-resistant properties, asbestos has long been used as a versatile building material. It was commonly used in homes, schools, and other structures until fairly recently when its serious health hazards came to light. Now, home inspectors check for asbestos before a sale is able to go through.

If you’re concerned that your home might contain this material, which could be putting you and your family at risk, here is some information  that could help.

1. Asbestos Was a Popular Building Material Until the 1980s

The dangers include an increased risk for lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses such as asbestosis, were largely unknown to the public until the 1980s. As a result, homes built before this period have a higher likelihood of contamination.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to have your home inspected, especially if you’re planning on remodeling any part of your home, which could release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air.

2. Not All Asbestos-Containing Products Are Banned in the U.S.

Despite the fact that the health hazards of asbestos are now widely recognized, not all materials that contain it have been banned in the United States. This means that even new construction could potentially contain asbestos.

According to the EPA, just some of the asbestos-containing materials that are currently not banned in the U.S. include:

  • Cement sheet
  • Roofing felt and roof coatings
  • Vinyl floor tile
  • Cement shingle and pipe
  • Millboard

3. Asbestos Poses a Health Risk When Inhaled or Ingested

Asbestos becomes dangerous when its dust particles are released into the air, where they can be easily inhaled or ingested. Because of this, many people are unaware that they have been exposed to it at all.

Before you begin a home renovation or DIY remodeling project, get your home assessed  to make sure you’re not unknowing putting yourself and your family at risk.

Keep in mind, too, that even drilling, sanding, or pressure-washing materials that contain asbestos could potentially release the harmful fibers into the air, so it’s important to know for sure whether or not your home contains this material before moving forward with a project.

4. Asbestos Can Be Difficult to Detect

Another reason it can be such a challenging problem for homeowners is that it is often difficult or even impossible to detect by simply visually inspecting your home. This is because the fibers that cause these health risks are generally too small to see with the naked eye.

Additionally, because so many different building materials could possibly contain asbestos, there’s no surefire way to tell whether or not you might be at risk by simply performing a self-evaluation of the building. If you’re unsure about the presence of asbestos in any part of your home, it’s better to play it safe and have samples professionally tested.

5. Only a Licensed Professional Should Assess and Remove Asbestos

If lab tests come back showing that your home does contain asbestos, the next step is to take steps to safely remediate it. Attempting to remove asbestos from your home yourself, however, can be much more dangerous than just leaving it alone. If you have an asbestos problem, the best way to get rid of it is to rely on trained and certified professionals who can safely and effectively remove it.

Then, once you’ve called in the professionals, it’s a good idea to have the air quality of your home retested to make sure that all traces of asbestos are gone to give you the peace of mind that you and your family are safe.

Want To Know More Facts?

If you still have questions about asbestos take a look at our FAQ page for more information. If you still can’t find the answers you’re looking for, feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (908) 206-0073 and one of our friendly team members would be happy to help you.

Read More