Asbestos is a substance found in many building materials in older homes. If your home is relatively old, there is a risk that at least one element contains asbestos. Learn about its potential health hazards and why certain precautions should be taken before undertaking renovations.

Asbestos in homes

Asbestos is a mineral fibre naturally present in rock. The construction industry has long used this material to manufacture different building materials because of its many properties. Indeed, it is an excellent insulator, stopping both noise and maintaining temperature. In addition, this material is fire resistant, which makes it safe. For all these reasons, asbestos was  very present in homes until its dangers were discovered and it was finally banned.

In which materials is asbestos generally present?

Here is a list of the main uses of asbestos:

  • Building materials such as roofing shingles, felts, plaster or tiles;
  • Friction materials such as brake linings, protective bushings orclutch disc gas;
  • Thermal and flame retardant protective equipment;
  • Industrial furnaces and heating systems;
  • Packaging materials such as cardboard, gaskets and coatings;
  • Reinforcement of plastic products, resins and caulking products.

How does asbestos contaminate the occupants of a house?

Today, modern houses have almost no asbestos among their building materials. On the other hand, older buildings may still contain them in insulation, tiles and other elements.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that asbestos remains trapped in the material while the latter is in good condition. The only way to release it into the air is when the material degrades, or when you work on it, by making holes for example. This is when occupants are most at risk of exposure to asbestos.

What are the health hazards of asbestos?

If the risks of exposure to asbestos are not to be taken lightly, it is because this material profoundly affects the health of people who are contaminated. It can cause the following diseases:

  • Fibrosis or asbestosis, a respiratory disorder causing breathing difficulties;
  • Chronic renal failure;
  • Bronchopulmonary cancer;
  • An alteration of the immune system.

What to do before proceeding with work in the house?

If your home is relatively old, there is a risk that there may be asbestos-containing materials. Therefore, to avoid releasing asbestos following your  work, precautions must be taken before starting the work and drilling into walls, floors or ceilings.

It is essential to detect the presence of asbestos and its possible content. Depending on the  results of the analysis, you may need to completely replace asbestos-containing materials.