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What is Asbestos?


What is asbestos? The word “asbestos” derives from the Greek language and means “indestructible or impervious”. Asbestos material is resistant to heat, which is why it was the preferred building material in many industries, from commercial buildings to automotive. This was before we learned of all the negative and nasty health effects.


Asbestos is made up of a set of very strong, durable fibers that are not just resistant to heat, but also resistant to outside toxins and other chemicals. When mixed with other materials, asbestos can be strengthened. Due to this, the substance was widely used before 1980. For example, the material was used in residential buildings, ships and other water vehicles, automotive, and more. 


Scientists after many decades began to understand the negative health risks that came along with the use of asbestos and with that it’s use was discontinued. Unfortunately, that was not before asbestos has the chance to affect many industries. One industry that was heavily affected by asbestos overuse was the mining industry. There were many diseases and aliments becoming known to be associated with asbestos use, including mesothelioma. After years of being exposed, many workers were developing the debilitating health issues and diseases. 


Due to asbestos being the favored building material of many industries for decades, there is still traces of asbestos that remain in many older structures today. As a result, the asbestos removal industry has continued to boom even after the substance was banned in the 1980’s. 


Some of the common places asbestos was used include,

  • Insultation materials: HVAC insulation (sprayed-in and blown-in insulation) 
  • Wearable and Textile products: Cotton blankets, protective cloth coverings, asbestos gloves, etc.
  • Building materials: Ceramic tiles, drywall, roofing and siding materials, vinyl flooring, and more. 


Asbestos has also been used in a wide variety of home appliances. This includes our beloved coffee pots and toasters. There are a lot of other appliances that you might be surprised to learn have traces of asbestos. For example, portable heaters, dishwashers, irons and even wood burning stoves! Also, believe it or not, but up until about 1980 traces of asbestos could be found in most handheld hair dryers.


So, as you can see, even though asbestos was discontinued in the 1980’s, you can still find the material in a number of products that you have in your home. It’s not always old buildings that contain the largest amounts of asbestos either. It is not uncommon to find asbestos in the outdated appliances. In these appliances typically the material is most founded in the electrical cords. If you have older appliances that you believe may contain asbestos it is best to replace them. Trying to repair the suspected areas may result in disturbing the asbestos, which causes the toxins to be released into the air and resulting in an increased risk of contracting negative health effects.  It is best just to safe yourself the risk and just replace the product.


If you suspect you have asbestos in your Northern Virginia home, you can contact us here at Everest Pro for a free estimate.