HVAC Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos was a very common ingredient in construction materials between the 1930s and early 1980s due to its insulating, fireproofing and waterproofing qualities, and because it is cheap to purchase. Asbestos was a desirable material and manufacturers across the world used it with abandon.
HVAC mechanics are at risk of asbestos exposure every time they work in a building that contains asbestos. While asbestos isn’t used in new construction buildings and homes today, it is still present in many of the older structures that HVAC mechanics service.
When left alone, asbestos is a safe material. However, when asbestos is disrupted through any sort of handling or movement, fibers are released into the air. These asbestos fibers can be inhaled or ingested by HVAC mechanics, putting them at risk for asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.
To this day, HVAC mechanics encounter many materials that may contain asbestos, including:
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Gaskets, wires
- Insulation, including HVAC duct insulation
- Roofing and shingles
- Sealants, adhesives, and glues
HVAC mechanics work with countless components of a home, which makes it nearly impossible to recognize every element that may contain asbestos.
Precautions should always be taken when there’s even a small risk of being exposed to asbestos. In addition, all HVAC mechanics should take training courses in identifying asbestos and staying safe.
Once the dangers of asbestos were discovered, it was phased out of construction. However, buildings are made to stand the test of time, and that means many residential, commercial, and industrial structures are still riddled with asbestos.