If you’ve ever remodeled an older home, then you know the trouble you’re in when finding asbestos insulation, siding or ceiling tiles. Most of us have heard about the dangers of Asbestos, but where did this material come from and why is it so bad? And how can we get rid of it safely? Well, let’s start at the beginning.
WHAT IS IT? It’s a natural occurring mineral found in the ground on every continent in the world. The asbestos minerals are made up of fine, strong fibers that are resistant to heat, fire and other chemicals. Because of it’s fire-resistant and insulation properties, it has a wide variety of uses. Asbestos has a long history starting as far back as 2500 B.C. where it was first used as a cloth. But it was during the Industrial Age that it became the “go-to” material for ships, buildings, cars, and our homes. Some of the products made from asbestos include, cement, roofing, flooring (linoleum and carpet), ceiling tiles, paper for electrical panels, break pads, and the ever popular home insulation. This stuff is everywhere!
Unfortunately, this widely used material comes with a heavy price, Cancer. One such cancer is Mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer linked to Asbestos exposure effecting your lungs, heart and/or abdominal regions. Those at greatest risk are construction workers, firefighters, mechanics, people working in factories, shipyards, mines and more.
The reason Asbestos is so dangerous is because the strong, tiny fibers that make up Asbestos can be easily released into the air. The fibers as so microscopic that you can’t tell you’re breathing them in. Essentially, you could be exposing yourself to it for years without any symptoms as it grows, and grows in your body. Fortunately, we’ve moved away from using it and have instead replaced it with more environmentally acceptable substitutes. (*learn more on my website under Eco-Friendly Decorating). However, there’s still a lot of it out there. So, what do we do with all of this cancer-laden material we’ve just unearthed in our home-sweet-home?
Recycle it! Yes, Asbestos can be recycled! Even though Asbestos resists most chemical reactions, it will react with strong acids and bases. The dissolved asbestos solution can then be melted and used to create glass or ceramic material. Recycling keeps it out of the landfill, where it’s still an active and dangerous material, and it can be reinvented into a useful, non-toxic material. Pretty cool, huh? Check with your local waste management facility to find out how and where you can recycle asbestos. *Removal of Asbestos material should always be handled by licensed and trained professionals.
There’s a lot of information out there on Asbestos and I want to point you to a very informative site brought to my attention by a Bright Ideas follower, Virgil, who was recently diagnosed with Mesothelioma and who has benefited greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net.
This site has a wealth of information on Asbestos, industrial and occupational hazards, how to protect yourself, cancer treatments and support, how to recycle asbestos and so much more, free and available to you. Please check it out!
Thank you ~Colleen
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