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Blog - How to test for Asbestos and how to deal with it

How to test for Asbestos and how to deal with it
By Gerald Peck 6/9/2016 7:19 PM

Recent news in Singapore mentioned most of the roof awning of the 349 terraced houses in Chip Bee Gardens are to be replaced due to the Asbestos? So what are Asbestos and are they very dangerous when come in contact? 


Asbestos is known for it’s heat resistant nature and it’s structure was such, that it was used in everyday objects. Asbestos is durable and flexible which made it a perfect material for general products such as sheets, plastics, vinyl products, fire proofing, and adhesives. 


It has been a staple product in most of construction since the 1900’s. This made it an impossible to live without product. Asbestos has been present in our daily lives in the shape of brake pads and clutches in cars, flooring and roofing tiles and the adhesive to lay them as well. The Cement and Asbestos combination proved to be an ideal substance that was good at insulation and added the necessary weight. Asbestos was even used in blankets because of it’s resistance to heat! 



Till now Asbestos seems like a fine material that could be use in various scenarios. For the uninitiated, Asbestos can cause cancer and the properties in it make it such that you cannot even be exposed to it.


Asbestos has been banned in some forms since the early 70’s and in 1988 a full ban in Singapore was in place for most of Asbestos based products. 


Let us delve more into this raw material…



What is Asbestos?


Asbestos is actually six separate minerals or substances that are part of the  Serpentine and amphibole family. 


The types are Chryostile Asbestos, Amosite Asbestos, Crocidolite Asbestos, Tremolite Asbestos, Anthophyllite Asbestos, Actinolite Asbestos.


Is every type of Asbestos dangerous? 


The answer is yes they are carcinogenic and some are more dangerous and potent than the other. 


How does Asbestos affect Humans?



Asbestos is known to cause Mesothelioma a form of lung cancer. This kind of lung cancer has only one cause and this is Asbestos. It sometimes takes 20 to 30 years to surface and it kills slowly. It can be cured through surgery and chemotherapy, if detected early. Detection is hard for this because it mimics other diseases and it is hard to tell which disease the patient is suffering from. 



Hunting down Asbestos 


To understand how to get rid of asbestos you need to know two terms. Friable and Non- Friable. Friable asbestos are the ones that crumble and break. This type of asbestos is extremely dangerous because it can get air borne and that is the most common way to get asbestos into your lungs. The non friable kinds are the ones that are hard and infused with other materials like cement and they aren’t as dangerous because they can’t get airborne. 


Once you’ve understood this classification, the best way to go about this is to understand where Asbestos will be present. Sometimes Asbestos is present in old piping which cannot be removed and the best way to protect yourself is to use a sealant to seal the exposed area of the asbestos. 


If you want to do some repair or reconstruction work, then you might want to get your house tested for Asbestos that may get airborne when you are in the process of repair or construction. The best way is to get a professional who will test your house for asbestos as well as the possibilities of it getting airborne. 


After the asbestos removal, the contractor should test the air for any airborne asbestos and as well as use certified respirators, disposable clothing and and a HEPA Vacuum. 


When your taking the help of a contractor to remove asbestos then make sure to seal your house, get every person out of the house(except the contractor), keep a plastic sheet below the area of activity to collect the samples and to not let any of it go astray. 


After the samples are collected it should be sent to a lab which tests for presence of asbestos. 


So the best way to get rid of asbestos is to remove it or live with it. If you are living with it make sure not to disturb the area of asbestos by scraping, drilling or using a any abrasive cleaning material. Keep the contact with that area as less as possible and try not to be around that area.