Asbestos is a mineral that has been used for many decades in products like roofing shingles and floor tiles. However, its use has declined since the 1999 law that banned asbestos all use of asbestos in the UK.
According to WHO, nearly 125 million people around the world are exposed to asbestos in their workplaces. A natural material, asbestos can cause serious health problems if inhaled over long periods of time or in high concentrations. These health risks are related to exposure to asbestos fibers during occupational or environmental exposure.
While residential exposures are less common than occupational or environmental exposures, they are equally dangerous. As a professional service offering asbestos removal in London, we come across countless people who try to get rid of asbestos in their properties by themselves. Not only can this be potentially life-threatening for them but it can also be extremely tasking to dispose of asbestos once extracted.
So, when asked if DIY asbestos removal is worth the risk, we always say no. And hereâ€™s why!
Health risks of asbestos
The health risks of asbestos are more severe than many people realize. Asbestos is a mineral that is often found in building materials, appliances, insulation, and other products.
Inhaling asbestos fibers can have major impacts on your physical health. These fibers can enter your body through your lungs or skin and lead to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Once inside your body, they may cause damage to organs such as the brain and heart. Prolonged exposure to asbestos also increases the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, later in life.
Asbestos is also linked to asbestosis, an incurable condition that damages the lungs; pleural plaques, which can cause shortness of breath; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes breathing difficult; and ovarian cancer. The list of diseases caused by asbestos exposure grows each year as more people are diagnosed with them.
How to identify materials that may contain asbestos
Asbestos was used extensively as insulation and fireproofing in buildings before being banned in 1999. So, if your property is older than that, like most properties, it is possible for you to have equipment and items containing asbestos in your space. And that’s never good news.
Asbestos can commonly be found in products, such as:
- Flooring tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Closets and laundry rooms
- Decorative wall coverings
- Drywall (including low-permeability cement board)
- Foam insulation within walls or ceilings (especially in older buildings)
- Fireproofing materials on floors, ceilings, walls, and ductwork that was done before 1999.
Any presence of small lumps or fibers in your property that appear to be new and unbroken could be a sign of asbestos. But now that you know where to look for asbestos primarily, you shouldnâ€™t DIY your inspection. Any amount of exposure to asbestos can be physically taxing. So, if you suspect an asbestos infestation inside your property, contact a professional asbestos removal service to take care of it immediately.
What to do if you have asbestos in your property
If you have asbestos in your property, don’t try to handle it yourself. Even if you believe you are taking all the necessary precautions, it is best to call a professional asbestos removal service. The reason is simple: asbestos removers have to get licensed by the government to carry out their job. It is that high-risk a task to carry out by yourself when you have no experience.
So, if you think your house has asbestos, here is what you should do:
- It may be possible for you to remove some of the material yourself and then dispose of it at a local landfill. However, this does not mean that you should do it and put yourself in harmâ€™s way. Limit contact with any materials associated with asbestos.
- Wear a mask when you are in the surrounding area.
- Do not disturb the material until a professional has removed it.
- Call a professional asbestos removal service to come out and take care of everything for you.
- If you have already been exposed to asbestos, call for medical evaluation and treatment as soon as possible.
Given the endless list of asbestos-related illnesses, no amount of money you save on expert removal is worth the physical and financial toil that exposure to asbestos can cause. So, once again, is DIY asbestos removal worth the risk? As professional asbestos removers, we still have to say no!