The most common type of asbestos found in homes today is known as chrysotile - a fibrous mineral that can be mined all over the world. Chrysotile/ asbestos was commonly used in building construction prior to 1978 because it is fire-resistant, strong, flexible, and cheap. It would be frequently used in joint compounds and adhesives, vinyl tile, roofing, drywall, and insulation.
Friable and Non-Friable Asbestos
Asbestos manufacturing was banned in the United States in 1978 because of health concerns. When asbestos fibers become airborne, they are known as being friable. Non-friable asbestos-containing material is still in its original, solid state. A full sheet of asbestos-containing drywall, for example, would be considered non-friable, and is not dangerous.
However, when a sheet of drywall containing asbestos is cut into, it causes dust and asbestos fibers from the sheet to become airborne. People directly exposed to friable (airborne asbestos) fibers can develop lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Here’s the takeaway: if you have an older home with asbestos-containing elements, so long as those asbestos fibers do not become airborne, you are safe.
Even though asbestos manufacturing was banned in 1978, use of asbestos-containing material was not banned in new construction. It is still legal in the United States to important asbestos-containing compounds for new construction use.
This is why the state of Colorado requires all contractors to test for asbestos if they remove 32 square feet or more of drywall from any building. This law even applies to buildings built post-1978. Good thing, since we have found asbestos in homes built as recently as 2016.
As far as asbestos removal goes, should it be done if you find that your house contains asbestos? Again, not necessarily so long as the asbestos remains non-friable.
If it does need to be removed, can the work be self-performed? Although the answer is technically yes, we do not recommend attempting to do so, at all. Asbestos fibers are microscopic, and once airborne, they become incredibly dangerous to a person’s long-term health. Even a few airborne fibers could cause terrible damage.
For your peace of mind, allow us and our partner Encompass Environmental, your asbestos abatement professionals, to perform the work for you. You will never regret playing it safe when it comes to your family’s health and wellbeing.