Asbestos is used in the construction of buildings. It is applied on steel beams and columns during construction of multistory buildings, and it is also added to concrete, asphalt, vinyl materials in roof shingles, pipes, siding, wall board, floor tiles, joint compounds and adhesives. Asbestos is an attractive material for electrical building and insulation because materials made with asbestos are strong, incombustible, and heat-resistant. When the materials made of asbestos are damaged, they release dust or fibers into the air. Did you know that a single bundle of asbestos fiber can already release thousands of breathable fibers which can be ingested and inhaled?
Asbestos poses a health risk when it is damaged, crumbles, or is in a state of disrepair. You can disturb asbestos by hitting, rubbing or handling, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. The disturbance is dangerous when power tools are involved, like grinders, water blasters, and drills. It is actually illegal in Australia to water blast asbestos materials, even a licensed professional.
Although doing a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) asbestos removal project will save you money now, it is not worth the risk of exposing yourself to the health risk associated with asbestos exposure. In this article, Greenlight Services gives some insights on the things you need to consider before deciding on your DIY asbestos removal project
Exposure to Asbestos
Since materials containing asbestos need to be handled properly, a DIY asbestos removal project can be risky. If you are planning to do a DIY asbestos removal project, it is recommended that you learn the proper way to handle asbestos material and to know what will happen in case you decide to do it.
You need to know that when asbestos releases dust or fibers into the air, these fibers can be ingested or inhaled. When you ingest or inhale too much of these, they will build up in your lungs. These ingested or inhaled fibers aggravates lung tissues, and can cause long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to a lot of health issues. There are three primary diseases associated with asbestos exposure, namely, asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is a serious lung condition that develops when a large number of asbestos fibers cause the scarring of the lungs. One who was regularly exposed to asbestos may experience shortness of breathing because the scarring in the lungs restricts breathing and interferes with the ability of oxygen to enter your bloodstream. If not detected and treated early on, asbestosis can lead to cardiac failure.
In recent times, only a few people have been diagnosed to have asbestosis in Australia. This is due to the banning of the manufacturing of asbestos items and the government’s strong regulation for asbestos removal.
Another disease associated with asbestos exposure is lung cancer. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, these microscopic fibers can become lodged in the lung tissue. Over a long period of time, the fibers can cause enough genetic and cellular damage to cause lung cells to turn cancerous. But not all lung cancers are from asbestos exposure, most lung cancers are caused by tobacco.
The third disease caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. Similar to lung cancer, mesothelioma is also a form of cancer. It is a rare form of cancer that most often occurs in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, or heart. Unlike lung cancer which develops in the lung itself, mesothelioma usually develops in the lining of the lung. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have a life expectancy of approximately 12 months after diagnosis. At present, there is still no cure for this disease. Mesothelioma symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breathing. Unfortunately, the disease is usually only detected after the cancer has spread.
Handling asbestos also causes skin warts. When the sharp asbestos fibers lodged in the skin, they would need to be frozen out or cut.
DIY Asbestos Removal: Is It For You?
With all the health concerns associated with asbestos, all Australian states and territories impose strong regulation on asbestos removal. Usually, they require a Class B asbestos removal license for anyone who plans on removing any amount of bonded asbestos materials that are greater than 10 square meters. So if you intend to remove friable asbestos, you should have a Class A license.
In most cases, DIY asbestos removal is illegal. In all Australian states and territories’ regulations, a Class B asbestos removal license is required for anyone to be able to remove any amount of bonded asbestos materials that are greater than 10 square meters. If you want to be able to remove friable asbestos, you need a Class A license. An asbestos containing material is considered friable if it can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
So if you don’t have the necessary license required by the state regulations, you can only legally remove asbestos containing material if it is bonded and if it’s not more than 10 square meters. But even if you can legally do it, it is important to ask, is it worth the risk? Doing an asbestos project removal by yourself does not appear to be the best choice when in the process, there is a possibility that you will catch severe lung diseases. In the long run, the money you will save from doing it yourself is not even enough to cover the medical expenses in case the worst happens. To top it all, these lung diseases associated with asbestos exposure are almost always fatal.
What You Can Do?
It is not recommended to do asbestos removal by yourself because of the health risks in handling asbestos containing material. Improper removal can increase your and your family’s exposure to asbestos fibers. The best thing you can do is to leave the job to the professionals. By hiring professionals, you will be assured that the workers you hire can handle asbestos and are properly trained and accredited.
If you are planning to remove asbestos containing materials, you can check companies like Greenlight Services which offer an asbestos survey and report, where they will inspect and check where the areas with asbestos are in your own home or at your workplace. They can inspect a home or building, assess conditions, take samples of suspected materials for testing, and advise about what corrections are needed.