Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has properties of being heat and chemical resistant, corrosion resistant, high tensile strength and more. Asbestos is found in many different forms: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite. Asbestos has been used in over 3,000 products such as: thermal systems insulation, flooring, building materials, vehicle brakes, pipe gaskets and more. Chrysotile is the most common form found in commercial products, and is the only fibrous form of asbestos in the serpentine group. Asbestos fibers are so small that they are impossible to be seen with the naked eye.
Most commonly, heavy exposure tends to occur in the construction industry, in particular during the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation projects, repairs, or demolition. During the manufacture of asbestos products, workers are also likely to be exposed. Workers doing automotive brake and clutch repair work are exposed as well, since asbestos is still commonly used in brakes due to its heat resistant properties.
Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard. The use of asbestos started to decline in the 1970’s, and is now highly regulated by both OSHA and the EPA. A buildup of scar-like tissue can occur in the lungs from breathing in asbestos fibers, called asbestosis. This gradually reduces the lungs ability to expand and contract normally. The most common form of health effects of asbestos is lung cancer. Mesothelioma of the pleura is another form of cancer, which specifically involves the membrane-like linings of the lung cavity. Mesothelioma of the peritoneum, involves the abdominal cavity. Pericardial mesothelioma is the most rare form, which occurs in the heart cavity.
Asbestos has been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has 3 different categories of asbestos building materials: Surfacing materials, Thermal system Insulation (TSI), and Miscellaneous materials.
Most uses of asbestos are not banned. A few are banned under existing regulations. Where asbestos may be found:
- Sprayed or trowled on surfaces: Acoustical plaster, decorative plaster, spray applied fireproofing, textured paint, patching compounds…
- Floor tile and mastic
- Ceiling tile
- Roofing felt, roof mastics, and various roofing materials…
- Pipe insulations, gaskets, pipe wrap, asbestos tape, ducting etc.
- Caulking products, cement pipes (transite pipes), cement wallboards cement shingles…
- Paint, stucco, plaster…
In general, exposure may occur only when an asbestos-containing material (ACM) is disturbed or damaged in a way that allows the asbestos fibers to be released into the air. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during demolition work, maintenance (building or home), repairs, and renovations or remodeling.
Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, including inside our homes. Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes: paint, pipes and plumbing materials, ceramics, solders, batteries, gasoline…
Lead may enter the environment from past and current uses. Industrial sources and contaminated sites are known to emit lead into the environment. While natural levels of lead in soil range between 50 and 400 parts per million, mining, smelting, and refining activities have resulted in substantial increases in lead levels in the environment, especially near mining and smelting sites.
When lead is released into the air from vehicles or industrial sources, it is capable of traveling long distances before settling to the ground, where it usually sticks to soil particles. Lead may find its way from soil, down into ground water, depending on the type of lead compound and also the characteristics of the soil. Federal and state regulatory standards have helped to reduce the amount of lead in: drinking water, the air, soil, food, consumer products, and occupational settings.
The key to preventing the growth of mold is to identify and control water/moisture problems. Mold spores naturally occur everywhere, including your home. Mold is capable of growing on any surface that has enough moisture.
Here are some common sources of moisture:
- Indoor plumbing leaks
- Roof leaks
- Outdoor drainage problems
- Damp basements
- Damp crawl spaces
- Steam coming from a bathroom or kitchen
- Condensation on cool surfaces
- Wet clothes drying inside the home
- A clothes dryer venting indoors
- Bad ventilation of heating and cooking appliances
Mold spores are naturally occurring and always found in the air we breathe. Extensive mold exposure may cause health problems. Breathing in mold can cause allergic and respiratory symptoms for certain people. However, it is hard to quantify how much mold will cause health problems because some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Always discuss your health concerns with your doctor, because the symptoms of mold exposure could possibly be caused by other exposures and illnesses.
People who may be more susceptible to health problems from mold exposure include:
- Current respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma, or emphysema…
- Compromised immune system such as HIV/AIDS infection, organ transplant patients, or chemotherapy patients…