Asbestos is a generic name for a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Asbestos has very unique properties – strength, durability, chemical and fire resistance. For this reason it was widely used in construction materials until the 1980’s. There were many other uses for asbestos in commercial, consumer & industrial products also. When it became widely recognized that exposures could cause serious lung disease and mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer, usage was banned.
Asbestos in Building Materials
In older buildings and homes asbestos may be found in pipe wrap, duct insulation, in ceiling and floor tiles, siding and exterior cladding. If asbestos-containing materials are in good condition and remain intact, they do not pose a significant danger from release of asbestos fibers into the air; however, during repair, renovation or demolition of an older building, there is a good probability of encountering asbestos-containing materials. In order to avoid deterioration or disturbance, it is important to identify which construction materials contain asbestos and to implement suitable precautions for dealing with asbestos containing materials (ACM).
Many building products previously used asbestos as a mix, filler or additive in cement, mortar, insulation, sealing & waterproofing compounds, thermal fabric, etc, usually in combination with other substances. These materials cannot be distinguished by visual inspection alone. When a suspect material is found, a bulk sample should be submitted for testing to a properly accredited asbestos laboratory.
Asbestos Containing Materials in Older Homes
- Insulation: materials for pipes & furnaces, duct wrap, boiler insulation (purging).
- Roofing & Siding: asbestos & cement shingles, Johns Manville transite siding.
- Soundproofing: trowel or sprayed insulation. PLASTER & joint compounds.
- Floor – Tiles & Adhesives: vinyl tiles, underlay, mastic, linoleum sheeting.
- Vermiculite: insulation in attics CEILINGS – tiles, sprayed ceiling finishes.
- Fireboard: chimneys, old stoves. CASINGS for old electrical wires
Asbestos in Vermiculite Insulation
Loose vermiculite material was commonly used as attic insulation in homes but can also be found in walls. Impurities of tremolite asbestos are found in some vermiculite insulation materials, but not all. In particular, vermiculite products excavated from Libby, Montana have been found to contain impurities of asbestos. There is currently no evidence of elevated health risk from vermiculite insulation that is isolated to the attic or wall cavities of homes. Samples of vermiculite can be analyzed for asbestos.
Our asbestos laboratory (ID 157811) is accredited by the AIHA LAP, LLC in the Industrial Hygiene accreditation program for Asbestos Field of Testing as documented by the scope of accreditation certificate and associated scope. We participate in a worldwide quality assurance program for asbestos laboratories (AIHA/BAPAT) to assure our clients receive accurate, legally defensible information when requesting analysis.
Please contact us if you wish to test any insulation for asbestos content.