Many construction materials are in use around the world today, and in developed and developing nations alike, asbestos, a family of silicate fibers, is often found in buildings. In fact, asbestos can also be found in tiles and even clothing, although the use of asbestos in buildings is on a general decline. The United States has not fully banned asbestos, but many buildings in the United States are now built without it, and older buildings that do contain it have warnings signs on the premises or on related paperwork. This ranges from private houses to apartments, hotels, and industrial settings such as an office building or factory. An asbestos evaluation may be carried out to check the indoor air quality in a building if there are frequent complaints about lung issues, and real estate assessment usually involves asbestos evaluation, among other things. Environmental consulting firms may be involved in asbestos evaluation, and mold sampling may be done as well. When is it time for asbestos evaluation, and why?
Asbestos and People
There are some debates on whether or not to fully ban asbestos, but that is a different topic. What can be described with a fair measure of certainty is asbestos’ frequency of use and its health impact on people exposed to it. Studies have shown that anywhere from 2-10% of people who are exposed to asbestos will develop asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis or asbestos warts or lung issues. Other statistics show that many Americans lose their lives due to exposure to this material; over 39,000 Americans perish every year because of asbestos-related diseases, and around the world, this figure is closer to 90,000 per year. On top of that, many more people are at risk of asbestos-related diseases around the world, especially in the United States. Nearly 125 million people around the world each year are at risk of occupational exposures to this material, and some 1.3 million American workers in construction and and general industry work are at risk of asbestos exposure every single day.
How much asbestos is being used and mined? Six different fibrous minerals are together referred to as “asbestos,” including Chrysotile, AMosite, Tremolite, Anthophyllite, and lastly, CHrocidolite. Out of all these, Chrysotile stands as the most widely use asbestos type, and it makes up 95% of all asbestos found around the world. Nearly two million tons of asbestos is consumed around the world every single year globally, and some nations have banned its use but others have not. Some 60 different countries have banned its use, but the United States has not. Due to this, many older American buildings are regularly submitted to asbestos evaluations to check for dangerous levels of asbestos exposure, and newer buildings may sometimes be built without it at all. Asbestos is not banned, officially, but all the same many Americans take steps to minimize its use and exposure alike.
Checking For Asbestos
Even without a ban on asbestos, many American professionals take steps to reduce asbestos use, and where it is already found, steps are taken to reduce exposure. Buildings constructed in the 1970s and earlier typically contain this material, and any business that purchases these old buildings may ask local asbestos evaluation experts to visit the premises and check for dangerous levels of asbestos in the air. This may also be done for apartments or hotels when a landlord purchases them. The same may be done if a current building’s occupants, such as tenants or employees, start complaining about lung issues that could be related to asbestos. If enough complaints accumulate, the building owner will ask local asbestos evaluation services to visit and check for asbestos. If asbestos levels are dangerously high, then the material may in fact be removed from the premises if so desired, or at least steps can be taken to seal up the building and prevent further exposure. This involves some work, though, so many newer buildings do not have asbestos in them at all when constructed. This may serve as a sort of unofficial ban on asbestos to limit its impact on people’s health and on the local environment alike.