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All Posts Tagged: asbestos

Asbestos – High Risk Occupations

Asbestos, which is a naturally-occurring substance known for its ability to resist heat and corrosion, is no longer used in most modern building materials because of its serious health risks. However, many workers can still be exposed to this harmful substance on a regular basis, so it’s crucial that employers in these fields take extra precautions to keep their employees safe. Outlined below are just some of the most high-risk occupations for exposure to asbestos.

Construction Workers

One of the most at-risk jobs for asbestos exposure is construction, especially for workers who are involved in demolition of any kind. That’s because asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are most harmful when they are disturbed and their fibers are released into the air.

Since asbestos was very commonly used in building materials such as insulation, dry wall and shingles up until the 1980s, any structures built within this time period should be treated as though they do contain asbestos. This should involve professional asbestos testing and abatement to ensure worker safety.

Electricians

Asbestos was also commonly used to insulate electrical wires due to its flame-resistant quality. Because of this, electricians who work in old construction could be at a high risk for asbestos exposure, and special care should be taken when removing old insulation and wiring from homes and other structures.

Plumbers

Pipe insulation is another building material that frequently contains asbestos, especially in older buildings, which can put plumbers at risk for coming into contact with ACMs while they work.

Auto Mechanics

Many people don’t realize that asbestos can also be found in some brake pads, linings and various gaskets. Thus, when working with these materials, auto mechanics could be exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

Firefighters

Because firefighters enter buildings that may be burning or are otherwise damaged, they can be at a very high risk for asbestos exposure. However, proper equipment can help to protect firefighters from breathing in asbestos fibers, smoke and other dangerous substances.

Teachers

Older school buildings contain ACMs, so teachers can run the risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers in the classroom if these materials are disturbed.

Additionally, some art supplies have been found to contain asbestos, including powder paints or glaze, clay and wheat paste. Art teachers should take special care when choosing supplies for their classes and when working with any existing supplies that could contain asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms

If you work in an environment where your risk of asbestos exposure is high, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of asbestos exposure. Some of the most notable signs include:

  • A persistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • “Clubbing” fingers or toes

How IRIS Environmental Laboratories Can Help

If you or your workers could be exposed to ACMs on a regular basis, a crucial step in ensuring employee safety is to have the space or materials checked for asbestos. When you work with IRIS Environmental Laboratories, a certified and trained professional will be sent to find asbestos containing materials.

To learn more about how to get started with this process, feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (908) 206-0073.

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Are People Still Dying from Asbestos?

Despite the fact that regulations have been in place since 1971 regarding how much asbestos workers can be exposed to and what types of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can still be manufactured, up to 15,000 Americans are still dying from asbestos exposure each year. Not only are many workers still at risk, but many families could also still be exposed to ACMs that are within the four walls, flooring and ceiling tiles of their homes.

For this reason, familiarizing yourself with the potential risks of asbestos exposure as well as the proper way to test for and get rid of ACMs in your home, business or other structure are crucial steps in minimizing your and your family’s risk of asbestos exposure and associated health complications. Read this article for more information.

How Can I Be Exposed to Asbestos?

Asbestos becomes the most dangerous and biggest health threat when its tiny particles are dispersed into the air. Thus, any time you disturb asbestos-containing materials that might already be in your home during a renovation, for example, you and your family could be at risk for inhaling the harmful particles. This is why calling in professional asbestos testing and asbestos abatement teams are an important first step before starting any major demolition or renovation project yourself.

Additionally, many workers are still being exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, especially those who work with older structures and building materials. Some of the highest-risk occupations for health problems associated with asbestos include:

  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Mechanics
  • Teachers

What Are the Health Effects of Asbestos?

A specific type of lung cancer called mesothelioma remains the leading cause of asbestos-related deaths, and has accounted for more than 45,000 deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2015.  The first signs of mesothelioma can take years or even decades to develop, which is why this disease is more commonly seen among people over 85.

However, there continue to be cases of people as young as 35 who are beginning to show signs of the negative effects of asbestos, which means that people today are still being exposed to this dangerous substance. In fact, children are at the greatest risk for developing asbestos-related health issues later in life, as their lungs and respiratory systems are still developing.

In addition to mesothelioma and other types of lung cancers, asbestos can negatively affect your health in many ways, including:

  • The formation of plaques in the lining of the lungs
  • A condition known as “folded lung”
  • Increased risk of developing laryngitis
  • Reduced immune system function

IRIS Environmental Laboratories

The bottom line is that many people don’t realize that asbestos is not a thing of the past—it remains a very real public health threat today. If special care is not taken when working with or around ACMs, you could risk developing related health complications down the road.

If you’re about to start a home renovation project or are concerned about ACMs in the workplace and the safety of your employees, start by having the space tested for asbestos by a certified environmental testing laboratory. Then, if asbestos is found, hire a team of asbestos abatement professionals to properly handle and remove it from your home or other building.

Still have questions about the effects of asbestos or how to initiate the asbestos testing process? Please feel free to send us a message, or give us a call at (908) 206-0073.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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how to spot asbestos

How To Tell If Your House Has Asbestos

How To Tell If Your House Has AsbestosThe word asbestos can be scary for many people. If you’re in the market to buy a home or maybe doing some remodeling, you might want learn more information on what asbestos is, how you can spot it, and most importantly how to treat it. Check out the rest of this article to learn more on how you can tell if your house has asbestos.

How To Tell If Your House Has Asbestos

Generally asbestos is not identifiable by the naked eye. It’s a mixture of natural fibrous minerals that’s odorless and colorless. However, there are signs that your home could be at risk for asbestos. Homes built prior to 1980 are at a larger risk of having asbestos contaminated products. This was before there was a ban on the material.

Some construction materials used that could potentially be hazardous due to asbestos contamination include:

  • Old floor tiles or laminate
  • Roof shingles
  • Pipe cement
  • Insulation
  • Heat and water piping

The only way to be sure if your home is contains asbestos is to have professional testing done on suspected areas in your home.

Asbestos Removal: Is It A DIY Project?

When going through any kind of real estate transaction most people have a budget. If you’re a handy person it’s a smart idea to do some home projects yourself, especially if you’re trying to cut back on costs. However, asbestos removal is very different then painting your walls, or putting in new lighting fixtures.

When asbestos is disturbed and the fibers get into the air, breathing them in can be extremely hazardous to your health. If you suspect your home has asbestos, it’s best to seek professional help and have the area properly tested before doing any attempted removal, cleaning, or construction yourself.

What To Do If Your House Has Asbestos

If your home does test for asbestos it’s best to have a certified company come in and do the necessary asbestos removal. The process of removal will be determined by what kind of asbestos and where in the home it’s located. In some cases, if the materials containing asbestos are in good condition and fibers can not be released it’s best to leave them alone and not disrupt them, but the areas should be monitored for any future deterioration. After the removal is completed, air quality testing should be done to ensure that the asbestos was properly treated and the homeowners are no longer at risk.

Calling A Professional

Whether your home needs a temporary solution or a complete asbestos removal, it’s important that you call a professional to come to your home and properly do the testing and give the pending results. Most home repair companies are not certified to do asbestos removal. Do you research or ask for a referral to a professional who will help keep you and your home safe.

Still Have Questions About Asbestos?

If you still have questions about asbestos testing , 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.

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Asbestos Assessment

What is an asbestos assessment?

An asbestos assessment is when a certified individual inspects a building for the presence, location and quantification of asbestos-containing material (ACM) or suspected ACM. ACM is defined as material that contains greater than 1% asbestos. An asbestos inspection also includes re-examining of building or facility to identify the presence or location of additional or existing ACM or suspected.

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Why should I worry about Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral with useful properties. Asbestos possess thermal stability, strength, and good insulating abilities. Asbestos cannot be seen with the naked eye. The bad news is asbestos may cause diseases if it is not handled properly. Asbestos may be anywhere in your home.  Following are places where asbestos can be found in your home:

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