If your insulation contains asbestos, you might need to have it removed. In order to determine if this is the case, trust an expert on the matter: O’Reilly Brothers gives you a free estimate and will perform a thorough analysis of your insulation in order to protect your family and you.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fibre. It can only be identified with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibres are strong, durable and non-combustible, and as such, they were widely used in construction and other industries until the 1980s.
Its superior reinforcing, insulating and fire-proofing properties created a demand for the fibrous material in things like insulation boards, asbestos cement, and floor and ceiling tiles. From the 1930s until the 1980s, asbestos was used in office buildings, public buildings and schools.
It was used in industrial furnaces and to insulate hot water heating systems, and was put into walls and ceilings as insulation against fire and sound. Loose-fill vermiculite insulation may contain traces of “amphibole” asbestos.
What is vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral mined around the world and used in a variety of commercial and consumer products because it is fire-resistant and has good insulation qualities. Of particular concern is vermiculite ore produced by the Libby Mine in Montana from the 1920’s to 1990.
It was sold as Zonolite® Attic Insulation and possibly other brands in Canada during that time. Vermiculite from the Libby Mine may contain amphibole asbestos. The Libby Mine supplied the majority of the world market with vermiculite-based insulation. Some vermiculite insulation may contain amphibole asbestos fibres.
These products can cause health risks if disturbed during maintenance, renovation or demolition. However, there is currently no evidence of risk to your health if the insulation is sealed behind wallboards and floorboards, isolated in an attic, or otherwise kept from
exposure to the interior environment.
I think I have asbestos, what do I do?
Call us for a free inspection. O’Reilly Brothers has extensive experience with asbestos and vermiculite, and knows exactly how to handle it. Many times, a sample of the product in question is taken and sent for lab verification to confirm suspicions. You should not attempt to remove any of these products on your own, there are health risks in doing so and there are laws concerning the proper disposal of contaminated building materials.
Why should I have asbestos removed?
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the EPA have determined that asbestos is a human carcinogen. Amphibole asbestos fibres, when inhaled, stay much longer in the lungs than chrysotile fibres and they are more likely to inflict damage and cause diseases, including cancer. Accordingly, amphibole asbestos has been drastically controlled and largely replaced.
Is asbestos still being used today?
Asbestos use has declined dramatically since the early 1980s. For instance, the use of asbestos insulation in buildings and heating systems has virtually disappeared. Residential use for roofing, flooring and appliances, continues to decrease. Asbestos can however still be found in buildings built prior to the end of the 1980s.
In what circumstances is asbestos dangerous?
The amount of asbestos in a product does not indicate its health risk. If the asbestos fibres are enclosed or tightly bound in a compound, there is no significant health risk. One of the main problems with asbestos came from sprayed or “friable” (easily broken up) amphibole asbestos used in buildings until the 1970s.
People working in construction, maintenance or in the renovation of older buildings should be particularly careful when handling this kind of asbestos. Construction materials containing asbestos, such as insulation boards, asbestos cement, and floor and ceiling tiles, are typically very dense and do not release significant amounts of fibres under normal use. However, fibres may be released if these products are cut or damaged.
Asbestos fibre concentrations in the air in buildings are usually about the same as in the air outside, and are not a significant risk. However, levels may be higher if friable asbestos materials are disturbed.
What are the health risks of asbestos?
Asbestos poses health hazards only when a significant amount of fibres are found in the air people breathe. The severity of the risk depends on:
Where Can I Learn More?
For more information on asbestos and vermiculite, visit the following websites: