How to Find Asbestos in Your Home or Business | Orange Country Environment

Health experts call asbestos the silent killer, and with good reason. Often found in structures built before 1980, asbestos was once hailed as a miracle substance, one that prevented thousands of potentially hazardous fires. Over time, however, evidence began to mount that asbestos was worse than the problem it sought to cure. Medical experts have linked it to thousands of cases of lung cancer and similar diseases across the country. While the effects of asbestos exposure may take decades to show themselves, when they do surface the results are often tragic.

Complicating this problem is the fact that asbestos spreads through the environment over time. For example, asbestos-based insulation around pipes, furnaces, and boilers releases cancer-causing fibers into the air, which its victims then breathe. In other cases, asbestos pipes used to carry water can contaminate a residence’s drinking supply.

To find out if there is asbestos in your home or business, you’ll need to send samples of suspected fibers to certified laboratories for examination. The technicians there will use techniques like transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and polarized light microscopy (PLM) to check for the presence of the material. You can obtain a list of approved laboratories from the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

Many people lack the specialized training and experience needed to track down asbestos. In such cases, the best course of action is to use a trained asbestos inspector. This professional will use cutting-edge scientific tools to determine if your home or commercial structure is at risk.

If the inspector finds asbestos in your building, then he or she will also evaluate the material’s condition. In some cases, asbestos that has not deteriorated is relatively safe. If the material has broken down over time, however, the risks to you, your loved ones, and your employees might be serious.

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