For a long time, asbestos was a commonly used substance in the manufacture of insulation materials for heating and cooling systems in houses. One of these materials in which asbestos was widely used was insulation coating. The use of this type of insulation coating occurred between the 1930s and the 1970s when the production and distribution of asbestos was at its peak. In the seventies, the government stepped in to regulate the use of asbestos in construction use and other uses. By then, hundreds of thousands of residential and commercial buildings had already had asbestos containing insulation materials installed.
The factors contributing to asbestos’ popularity as a construction material and especially as an insulation material were many. It was highly affordable, and was highly resistant to heat. This property enabled the heating and cooling systems to keep air warmer or cooler, as required for longer periods of time, at a lower cost. These properties helped the growth of asbestos into a very high demand product in buildings from the 1930s up until a couple of decades ago.
While the dangers of working with asbestos in construction, automotive repair, shipping and mining have been well documented, relatively little is known about the effects of having asbestos as part of the materials used for insulation in your heating and cooling systems. For many years, people believed that the presence of asbestos in insulation coating and other materials was negligible, and didn’t warrant concern. While this may be true to a certain extent, it is also a fact that asbestos takes on a distinctly dangerous hue when it becomes friable. This can happen either due to a water leak, which can dissolve the asbestos into minute particles, or when the insulation material breaks down after prolonged use and wear and tear.
The microscopic particles that are released have the density of cigarette smoke, and are easily inhaled by those in the vicinity. Once inhaled, they become trapped in the lower part of the lungs, and over a period of many years, cause the lining of the lungs to harden. Mesothelioma develops, and asbestosis is also a definite possibility. Both these diseases are entirely asbestos-related.
Getting rid of asbestos containing materials inside your house is easier said than done. The process of abatement is not only expensive, but also technically complex. Abatement must never be taken up by the homeowner himself, and must always be entrusted to a contractor who can take the necessary precautions. Workers who are involved in the process of removal must wear protective clothing and goggles. Any asbestos that is removed from the premises must also be disposed of in a safe manner, as specified by law.