At Amity Environmental, we work with mould and asbestos — two things we strongly recommend people stay away from. Often homeowners ask us what’s so bad about asbestos if we’re willing to handle it, and that’s a fair question. But first, it’s important to remember that our experts have been trained to handle asbestos safely and keep it contained. But let’s dive right in: what’s so bad about asbestos?
Asbestos is a type of mineral (think of it as a distant cousin to garnet) that is distinguished by its structure. It has long, microscopic fibers, and numerous special properties. Asbestos is resistant to heat, fire, and chemical reactions, and it doesn’t conduct electricity. All of these characteristics are the reason it was used so extensively in homes, automobiles, and everything inbetween. However, its hair-like structure is what makes it so dangerous. Asbestos is brittle, and when it crumbles, it releases these microscopic fibers into the air. When they are inhaled, they become logged in the lungs.
Over a lifetime (individuals often don’t show symptoms for 30-50 years after first exposure), a person who has inhaled asbestos fibers may develop asbestosis. This inflammation of the lungs leads to shortness of breath, coughing, and can even permanently scar the lung making breathing difficult for life. However, asbestosis is getting off easily.
Lung cancer and other lung conditions are common in asbestos workers. Fluid can begin to collect between the lungs and the inside wall of the chest cavity, and the membranes that surround the lungs can begin to thicken. However, the worst health condition associated with prolonged asbestos exposure is mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a special cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. It’s extremely rare and found almost exclusively in people who have been exposed to asbestos. Unlike other forms of cancer which have seen a lot of progress over the last few decades in treatments and prognosis, the 5-year survival chances for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma have remained much the same.
When we explain in our blogs and to our customers over the phone that removing asbestos yourself is a really bad idea, it’s not because we want to make some easy money. Our favourite part of our job is that we get to help protect our fellow Calgarians from working with this junk. Asbestos removal isn’t a DIY job, so call in the professionals at Amity Environmental. We’re here to serve you.