Asbestos Cement: A Guide for Homeowners

How Dangerous Is It?

The inherent danger of asbestos cement lies in the asbestos fibers that it contains. When these fibers are inhaled, they can cause serious health problems. The risk arises when the cement material is disturbed or damaged, causing the asbestos fibers to become airborne.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and can lead to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that causes shortness of breath, coughing and permanent lung damage. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that most commonly affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen.

However, it’s important to note that asbestos cement in good condition and left undisturbed is generally not a health risk. The asbestos fibers are bound within the cement matrix, and as long as the material remains intact, the fibers are unlikely to be released into the air.

The danger increases when the asbestos cement is broken, drilled, sawn, scrubbed, or otherwise disturbed, as these actions can release harmful asbestos fibres. This is why it’s crucial to take proper precautions if you suspect the presence of asbestos cement in your home and are planning any renovations, demolitions, or other activities that might disturb it.

Asbestos-related diseases often take a long time – sometimes decades – to develop after exposure. Therefore, it is essential to minimize exposure as much as possible, even if no immediate health effects are evident.

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