Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) and Human Exposure
Asbestos is largely used in commercial products because of its insulation and fire resistant properties. These products can be found at home, in hotels, department stores, and even outside the known sanctuary such as in streets or in the main thoroughfares. This then makes every individual’s risk to asbestos exposure unpredictable. It should be note that asbestos exposure is dangerous to human as it cause different diseases which can be fatal such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. The route of human exposure; however, is based on the concentration of asbestos present during exposure and the length of time an individual is exposed to it. The higher the concentration and the longer time an individual is exposed to it, the higher the risk that one gets to obtain these kinds of diseases. For safety reasons workers and hostess may test materials for asbestos contents using asbestos test kits and determine ways on how to manage them. Even so, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has determined some materials that contained asbestos for people’s awareness and guidelines.
List of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM)
The following list shows a number of materials suspected for asbestos composites. Being aware of this gives meaning to being health conscious. Some materials that are not included in the list but doubted to have asbestos content may be tested through the asbestos testing kits.
|Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM)||Details|
|Cement Pipes||A form of laminated material of great strength and density made from the combination of asbestos paste and cement which is basically compressed by steel rollers. Used in building constructions.|
|Cement Wallboard||Used for building construction for its exquisite insulation as well as fire and corrosion properties.|
|Asphalt Floor Tile||Basically used for concrete subfloors because of its hardness and resilience. It is made from the combination of asbestos fibers, finely ground limestone, fillers, mineral pigments and asphaltic or resinous binders.|
|Vinyl Floor Tile||Usually used in kitchens and bathroom flooring for its durability and resistance to water.|
|Vinyl Sheet Flooring||An inexpensive flooring product made from asbestos fibers.|
|Flooring Backing||A type of insulation material used in cushion flooring, and drywall taping of buildings.|
|Construction Mastics||Used in furnishing under floor tiles, ceiling tiles, acoustical tiles, roofing, walls, and windows.|
|Acoustical Plaster||Sprayed in walls of buildings and homes to create style and fine texture.|
|Decorative Plaster||Gained popularity for its furnishing capabilities in construction of ornamental cornices, footings and moldings, as well as acoustic ceiling tiles and treatments now found in older homes.|
|Textured Paints/Coatings||Contains small amount of asbestos but was faced out in 1980. This still exist in old houses and buildings today.|
|Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in Panels||Used in house and building rooms for its maximum ceiling sound absorption properties. It also absorbs reverberations, and it is widely used for its convenient, attractive, and economical features.|
|Spray-Applied Insulation||An inexpensive form of fireproof insulation that is widely used since the 1960s.|
|Blown-in Insulation||Used to keep the heat in during winter and out during summer in homes and buildings. Also used to save electricity.|
|Fireproofing Materials||Used in some parts the building and homes to protect burning out form fire. Also used in some equipments like the bunker gear of firemen.|
|Taping Compounds (thermal)||Used in drywalls to provide a break or eliminate seams on the part where dry sheets meet together.|
|Packing Materials (for wall/floor penetrations)||Material containing asbestos composite which are basically used in sealing and protecting boilers, pipes and heaters from fire.|
|Laboratory Hoods/Table Tops/ Gloves||These materials along with the shelves, fume-hood line and hoods are made with asbestos to increase protection from chemicals during laboratory experiments and tests.|
|Fire Blankets/ Curtains||These materials are largely used in schools, offices, hospitals, schools and buildings throughout the United States to protect individuals from fire incidents. They basically become resistant to fire through asbestos contents.|
|Elevator Equipment Panels/ shoes||These asbestos containing materials are used in elevators in terms of friction control.|
|HVAC Duct Insulation||Found in roofs or shingles of houses and buildings|
|Boiler and Pipe Insulation||Used as cover in boiler pipes to prevent fires and to keep energy costs down|
|Breaching Insulation||Used to provide as steam radiators to provide heat and run machinery|
|Cooling Towers||Used as heat removal devices in oil refineries, chemical plants, power stations and building cooling.|
|Electrical Panel Partitions||Contains asbestos as an insulator to protect electric wires from damage|
|Electrical Cloth||Temperature resistant materials that is also flexible and tensile. Basically used to insulate electric wirings.|
|Chalkboards/chalk||Some chalks may contain talc which are basically blended with asbestos|
|Roofing Shingles and felt||Made from the mixture of asbestos fibers, cement and other additives and are used in roofing for its robustness and durability from corrosion|
|Base Flashing||Used as base for roofs to provide thermal insulation, high tensile strength, flexibility and fire resistance to roofs in low cost means|
|Thermal Paper Products||Basically used in many applications for building trades for its flexible and fire resistant properties that are primarily enhanced by asbestos contents|
|Fire Doors||Found in some parts of passive fire protection to hinder fire and smoke from spreading into different compartments|
|Caulking/Putties||A weatherproof, heatproof, waterproof, and durable all-purpose sealant used to fix cracks, fill joint gaps, and seal windows against drafts|
|Adhesives||Basically used in bond brick, lumber, mirrors, and glass during building constructions. Also found in putty knives.|
|Spackling Compounds||Used as fillers to breakage and holes in walls, roofs, and plasters|
This data is taken from http://www.epa.gov/Region06/6pd/asbestos/asbmatl.htm
Different ways how asbestos are released into the air
There are many ways on how asbestos are released into the air. Basically the asbestos fibers spread out when they are disturbed through physical actions such as sawing, drilling, or when damaged like asbestos cement. Materials like asbestos pipes release asbestos fibers when they are crushed, especially when buildings are demolished or destroyed by unexpected calamities. Since asbestos are tiny fibers that are not simply seen through the naked eye, little would people know that they are already exposed to asbestos. The following are instances on how asbestos are released into the air.
- Asbestos fibers are released during removal – The removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) needs to be done carefully; otherwise, help from professional asbestos remover is highly recommended. For instance disturbance and removal of friable spray-on in multi-storey buildings spreads out high concentration of asbestos fibers especially on the spot. In an observation done by the Ministry of Health on the management of asbestos in non-occupational places, the disturbance of asbestos during removal increased between 14 and 290 f/L. It took 16 to 35 weeks for the asbestos fibers in the air to abate. Exposure to such concentration is a hazard to health that is why asbestos removal in buildings requires certified asbestos remover to control and minimize asbestos escape in the air.
- Asbestos fibers are released during normal weathering – In a study done by Spurney in 1989, asbestos is also released through corrosion and weathering. In his study, he showed that asbestos fibers are corroded and weathered by the pollutants present in the air. The air that touches the asbestos- containing materials actually disperse asbestos fibers into the air while rain is noted only 20 to 80 percent of them are washed out during rainfall. In this case, though the asbestos fibers in the building vicinity remains at a low level, the fibers still have the same carcinogenic effect.
- Asbestos fibers are released into the water during vacuum activities- studies have shown that activities like vacuuming can send out asbestos fiber residues and deposits in water; hence, contaminating it. The most common type of asbestos deposits in waters are the chrysotiles which are most commonly used in commercial products used at home or in buildings, especially in places like Quebec, Australia, California, and United States.
Different instances on how people can be exposed to asbestos fibers
People can be exposed to asbestos fibers in different places in so many ways. Asbestos fibers may be obtained through inhalation of air which is already contaminated with asbestos from natural sources like weathered ACMs, waste sites, or from automobile clutches and brakes which already have deteriorated. Even so, it should be noted that airborne asbestos fibers are of greater concentration for people who reside near in areas confirmed to have asbestos like mines, renovated or demolished building, and waste sites. The following are the different ways on how asbestos exposure happens in different places.
- Home- Asbestos exposure is obtained through house renovations by means of cutting or sawing ACM, or drilling asbestos cements. Asbestos fibers can also come from deterioting insulators from walls, ceilings, and floor tiles.
- Old- buildings- Asbestos exposure happens by inhaling indoor air in buildings with asbestos-containing insulation, walls, and ceiling or floor tiles.
- Streets- Although asbestos concentration outside the edifice is rated to be at lower concentration, people are still exposed to them by inhaling airborne asbestos fibers.
- Water, rivers, and lakes- Asbestos can be absorbed by water especially when they are not disposed properly. Asbestos exposure through water is obtained through ingestion.