At one time, asbestos was a common substance used in the construction of buildings. Once the toxic effects of asbestos on human beings became known, bans on using asbestos in the construction of new homes took effect. The problem some workers face is that many old buildings still contain this dangerous substance.
Asbestos fibers generally are no threat as long as they remain contained inside of solid materials. Simply going into an old building should not pose a problem. However, construction workers, plumbers and other people who do repair or renovation work could directly encounter asbestos because of the nature of their work.
The dangers of releasing asbestos
Sfgate explains that over time construction material can break down or become damaged, which can release asbestos fibers. This means an old building with damaged pipes, walls or floors may expose people to asbestos. In the event a building is still in good shape but requires repair or reconstruction, the workers who perform these actions could directly encounter asbestos particles.
To take a few examples, construction workers may have to tear up floor tiles to install a new floor or rip down wall insulation to put in a new wall. Some plumbers do work around pipes that are decades old. Electricians may install new wiring in old walls. All of these actions generally require workers to deconstruct old construction material, which can release asbestos fibers into the air.
Materials that may contain asbestos
An old building can have asbestos just about anywhere. Sealing compounds like putties and caulking are possibilities. Old insulation around pipes and in walls may contain asbestos, as well as roof materials, fire curtains, popcorn ceilings, cement sheets, siding, and some plasters.
The sheer variety of materials that could expose someone to asbestos is why parties responsible for having workers renovate old properties should be aware of possible risks. Professional inspectors may look over old properties to discover evidence of asbestos before it has the potential to cause serious medical problems like mesothelioma, pleural effusion, or other ailments.