About Asbestos

Accredited can perform many asbestos types of tests depending on your specific needs. We can collect bulk samples of building materials to determine the presence of asbestos, air samples for clearance after completed abatement and/or for exposure assessments and dust samples to assess potential contamination.

What is Asbestos?

asbestos-fibersAsbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs naturally in rock and soil in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been used widely in building materials for insulation and as a fire retardant.

Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings.

Asbestos minerals are divided into two major groups: serpentine asbestos and amphibole asbestos. Serpentine asbestos includes the mineral chrysotile, which has long, curly fibers that can be woven. Chrysotile asbestos is the form that has been used most widely in commercial applications. Amphibole asbestos includes the minerals actinolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, crocidolite and amosite. Amphibole asbestos has straight, needle-like fibers that are more brittle than those of serpentine asbestos and are more limited in their ability to be fabricated.

You can’t tell if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. Many products look the same, whether they do or do not contain asbestos. The only way to tell for sure is to have Accredited take a bulk sample collected and analyzed by our accredited laboratory. Accreditor’s licensed asbestos inspector carefully collects a bulk sample from a material in a controlled fashion to minimize fiber release.

Two Types of Asbestos

Asbestos-containing material (ACM), defined as any material with more than one percent asbestos, comes in two forms: friable and non-friable. Friable ACM, such as insulation, is brittle, easily crumbles and readily becomes airborne when crushed. Non-friable ACM, such as floor tile and most roofing materials, is thicker and tougher and so not as easily released into the air.

Friable ACM is potentially dangerous when disturbed, whereas the sturdier non-friable ACM poses less risk. In either case, cutting, drilling and other types of demolition usually generate a lot of dust, creating a potential hazard of asbestos inhalation. Local Law 76/85 was enacted as a precautionary measure to ensure that any project involving such demolition — even relatively minor interior remodeling jobs — faces minimal risk of airborne asbestos.

How Can People Be Exposed to Asbestos?

When asbestos is left undisturbed, it poses little danger. However, when asbestos is disturbed building or home maintenance, repair etc.(by grinding, sanding, cutting, scraping, etc.) it releases millions of microscopic fibers into the air. These fibers, much smaller than the width of a human hair, can become easily inhaled by people around them. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can lodge themselves inside the respiratory tract and can cause serious health issues later on.

Where Asbestos May Be Found:

  • Attic and wall insulation produced containing vermiculite
  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Textured paint and patching compounds used on wall and ceilings
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement sheets
  • Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
  • Heat-resistant fabrics
  • Automobile clutches and brakes

Examples of Asbestos-Containing Products Not Banned

The manufacture, importation, processing and distribution in commerce of these products, as well as some others not listed, are not banned.

  • Cement corrugated sheet
  • Cement flat sheet
  • Clothing
  • Pipeline wrap
  • Roofing felt
  • Vinyl floor tile
  • Cement shingle
  • Millboard
  • Cement pipe
  • Automatic transmission components
  • Clutch facings
  • Friction materials
  • Disk brake pads
  • Drum brake linings
  • Brake blocks
  • Gaskets
  • Non-roofing coatings
  • Roof coatings

What Are The Health Hazards of Exposure to Asbestos?

People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems.

Disease symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure.

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma (a relatively rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen). Although rare, mesothelioma is the most common form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure.

Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. That risk is made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.