Asbestos Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. It is mined and milled from rock and is thin and strong. Chrysotile (white asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos), and Crocidolite (blue asbestos), are the most common types of asbestos used in manufacturing. Rarer forms are pliable and cylindrical and are often arranged in bundles, whereas Amosite and Crocidolite fibers appear to look like tiny needles.

Q. Is one type of asbestos more dangerous than another?

There have been more cases of Mesothelioma and cancer found in people working with Crocidolite than any other type of asbestos. However, all forms of asbestos, except Chrysolite, are of the same mineralogical family called Amphiboles. Even though there appear to be fewer incidences of disease in workers who deal only with Chrysolite, all asbestos forms are believed to carry similar risks.

Q. How many products contain asbestos?

It has been estimated that 3,000 different types of commercial products contain asbestos. In homes built prior to 1978, asbestos is most commonly found as thermal insulation on boilers and pipes. Unfortunately, it can also be found in many other household materials, which include:

  • Attic insulation (blown in and sometimes vermiculite insulation.)
  • Vinyl floor tiles (usually 9" X 9" tiles contain asbestos, but all tile should be tested to be sure.)
  • Textured ceilings
  • Glue that attaches floor tiles to concrete or wood (also called "mastic")
  • Some forms of linoleum
  • Window caulking or glazing
  • Roofing materials
  • HVAC duct insulation (usually found in corrugated or flat paper form)
  • Siding material
  • Plaster
  • Fiber cement siding
  • Corrugated heavy duty panels
  • Boiler lagging
  • Hot water pipe insulation

Q. How might I be exposed to asbestos fibers?

Asbestos can enter the environment from natural mineral deposits which have been exposed to the weather, and fiber releases arising from the application, disturbances and removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Asbestos may be found in products such as floor tiles, roof shingles, exterior siding, cement, automotive brakes, acoustical and structural insulation, etc. Asbestos fibers can be released into the air when ACM becomes damaged. If friable ACM (material that can be crumbled by hand pressure) is disturbed and becomes airborne, an inhalation hazard may result. Asbestos fibers in non-friable ACM (i.e. floor tiles, sidings, laboratory desktops, etc.) are so tightly bound in the material that they are in, that they do not easily release fibers. However, if the material is abraded, sanded or sawed, the material can easily be rendered friable.

Q. How do asbestos fibers enter the body?

Inhalation - Breathing air which has asbestos fibers in it, is the primary route of damaging exposure. Some of the asbestos fibers reaching are eliminated in exhaled air and others are coughed up from the lungs with mucous. The fibers reaching the deepest air passages of the lungs can produce the greatest damage.

Ingestion - The digestive system can be exposed to asbestos fibers from drinking water and mucous cleared from the lungs. A small number of fibers may penetrate the cells that line the digestive system, but only a few will reach the bloodstream. These fibers will be released in the urine.

Through the Skin - Asbestos fibers contacting the skin rarely pass through the skin into the body.

Q. How can asbestos affect my health?

It is important to note that not everyone who is exposed to asbestos develops an asbestos-related disease. There are however health effects related to asbestos exposure primarily from long-term studies of people exposed to large quantities of asbestos. These asbestos-related diseases include the following:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma
  • Pleural Plaques

The health effects from oral asbestos exposure are unclear. In some areas where the residents are exposed to asbestos fibers in the drinking water, cancers of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine may be a greater concern.


Q. How can I find out if I have asbestos in my home or not?

It is recommended that you hire a professional asbestos inspector certified by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and you locality to conduct an inspection and take samples of any suspect asbestos-containing material.

Q. How do I know for sure whether or not something contains asbestos?

Unless the insulation is labeled as asbestos you cannot tell if it is asbestos-containing by merely examining it. To determine the presence of asbestos, a sample of the material must be analyzed by a laboratory that is accredited for analyzing asbestos. S.A Barcia Inspections, LLC sends all its asbestos samples to accredited laboratories for accurate results.

Q. How can I protect my health?

  • Do not sand, cut or break any asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Even if materials are non-friable they will release fibers if they are disturbed in this manner.
  • Never use a regular household vacuum on asbestos containing dust. Even if the vacuum is equipped with a High Efficiency (HEPA) filter, you will not be able to decontaminate it properly once you have vacuumed up the asbestos dust. Special vacuums are used on asbestos containing dust. They are equipped with a HEPA filter and are specifically designed to filter out asbestos fibers and be easily decontaminated after use.

Q. What can I do to make sure my asbestos doesn't become dangerous?

If you suspect or know that there is asbestos in your home, periodically check it for breakage, tears, abrasions, or water damage. If you discover slightly damaged material, limit access to the area and do not touch or disturb it. If the asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, professional repair or removal is needed. S.A Barcia Inspections, LLC does not provide asbestos removal or cleaning.