Before the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of asbestos in 1977, it was utilized quite freely in a wide array of consumer and construction products throughout the United States . Its high tensile strength, heat resistance and cost effectiveness made products containing asbestos an ideal option for industrial purposes. Due to these and other qualities, namely its ability to reduce or prevent the passage of heat, asbestos was used in the construction of many types of insulation materials, including the insulation ducts found above the ceilings and below the floors of many homes, offices and other buildings.
Most people are aware of the dangers posed by prolonged exposure to asbestos but many may not be as informed as to what products actually contain this carcinogen. Homeowners should educate themselves as to what materials in their home may pose a potential health hazard. Asbestos-containing insulation ducts alone do not necessarily stand as a danger. If the duct work remains intact, in good order, and is located in an area where these conditions may easily be maintained, there is no real threat to the wellbeing of those individuals residing in such homes. That being said, asbestos does pose a threat when these materials become damaged, broken, or are even disturbed. It is only when these materials fall into disrepair that the asbestos fibers can become airborne.
When asbestos fibers are released into the air, they may be easily inhaled by those people in the vicinity, and can then become lodged in the tissue surrounding the lungs, abdomen, or even the heart. Individuals that have been exposed to asbestos for prolonged periods of time, as well those who’ve had limited contact, are at risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other asbestos-related illnesses. It should go without saying that people who work in the construction industry, or have been employed by manufacturers of asbestos containing products, are at a far greater risk of contracting these diseases.
Recognizing asbestos insulation duct can actually be quite easy. At the time of its use, there were no other look-alike products around. A good rule of thumb is, if it looks like it contains asbestos, it generally does, and a person should treat it as such. Look for white woven paper-like materials in the heating or cooling system of homes, offices or other buildings. Generally, when this material is found, most often in older structures, it does contain asbestos. To be certain of its content, a skilled professional should be brought in to inspect and dispose of the hazardous material.