Owing to the sheer number of poisonous substances that are prevalent in the world, it is not surprising that asbestos is one of them.
With this in mind, you should always be extra careful when dealing with asbestos as its long-term health effects can be very severe.
So if you have a balcony or an indoor area that needs to be asbestos-free, all you need to do is find the best certified and licensed asbestos removal expert in your town and ask for some help. Also, make sure you are keeping the air in your home clean by using an air-purification system using HEPA filters.
This guide will cover the best ways to remove asbestos from a balcony, risks of asbestos exposure, and give you information on how you can eliminate harmful asbestos from the air surrounding you.
Read More: How to Clean Balcony Without Drain
What is asbestos?
Because of its durability, asbestos is a fairly common building material used in home construction during the 1960s and 1970s.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring element that occurs in many different types of rock.
It is sometimes referred to as “white gold,” since it looks like pure white quartz.
Because of its unique properties, asbestos has been widely used in industry and commerce.
Asbestos is often mixed with other substances to make products such as cement, plasterboard, insulation, gaskets, and brake pads.
Does flooring contain asbestos?
Possibly! Flooring can be made from any number of materials including wood, concrete, vinyl, linoleum, carpet, tile, etc.
Flooring, including sheet vinyl and floor tile, can contain asbestos.
This is because the manufacturers may have used asbestos-containing material during their manufacturing process in materials like cement, asphalt, rubber, plastic and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Some types of flooring are stronger than others, and some may require additional reinforcement such as plywood or metal underlayment.
Read More: How to Clean Balcony Floor Without Water
Vinyl flooring is usually reinforced with fiberglass, while ceramic tile floors often use glass fibers.
Asbestos is added during the manufacturing process of flooring to strengthen it and make it durable.
In fact, asbestos was used in many building products, including roof shingles, fireproofing material, insulation, ceiling tiles and even wallpaper.
What is asbestos used for on the balcony?
Asbestos is a fibrous material which can sometimes be seen on balconies or in concrete.
It most commonly comes into contact with humans during demolition, remodeling and construction activities.
On the balcony, asbestos can be found in products like:
- balcony tiles
- roof & gutter cap, Related: Can You Put Gutters on Your Balcony?
- ceiling cladding
- joint compounds
- vinyl products
Health risks associated with exposure to asbestos
Asbestos is generally considered safe and harmless when it is in good condition and undisturbed.
However, it is an extremely hazardous material once it has been damaged (i.e., broken or cut).
The word “asbestosis” refers to scarring of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust over a long period of time.
Exposure to asbestos causes lung disease called mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the chest cavity and abdomen.
People exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing this type of cancer.
How to clean balcony asbestos
Test for asbestos
Let’s get straight to it.
Asbestos is a menacing dust that can be found in your home but not just in your house, some can be found on the balcony too.
The purpose of this test is to detect asbestos fibers that may appear on your balcony floor and also your balcony furniture.
The surface of an asbestos-containing building, piece of equipment or other product may indistinguishably appear to be that of a “normal” building surface composed of various materials.
However, asbestos is usually found wherever there are joints, cracks or other imperfections in the material.
Because most people don’t realize that asbestos is present in many common building materials, including drywall, flooring, insulation, ceiling tiles, roof shingles, and fireproofing products, there is often significant asbestos contamination in older homes.
In addition, fine asbestos fibers are weightless and may therefore become entrained in the air and be carried to other locations, such as on clothing, hair and shoes. This appearance is referred to as being asbestos-contaminated and can result in exposure if disturbed while it remains airborne (i.e., through sweeping, dusting etc.).
If you suspect that your home contains asbestos, it is important to contact a certified testing laboratory to determine whether your home contains asbestos.
You’ll want to work with a professional who understands how to handle hazardous material safely.
Contact a professional company for removal services
Eliminating asbestos is a dangerous task that you should leave to the professionals because it can be fatal if inhaled.
Hiring a professional company to remove the asbestos is therefore the best choice.
The service of these regulatory compliant companies is comprehensive.
This includes removal of the asbestos, the disposal and the restoration of the area if they have to remove parts of your walls or flooring.
Some licensed asbestos removal companies will also give you a free quote and send certified or insured specialists who will carry out a detailed study of your area and give you a free estimate of the removal cost, as well as providing you with references should you decide to proceed.
The removal will be done in a sealed off area to avoid any disturbance to you or your family.
Home remedies for cleaning asbestos
Use gloves while cleaning
Bruising on your hands or tearing of the gloves can be a serious problem.
This is why you should use gloves when cleaning off the asbestos dust and debris.
Gloves are an inexpensive way to protect your hands from getting bruised, especially when working with substances that can damage the skin such as bleach or detergent.
When removing asbestos from the material it is important to take care of yourself because the risk for hand injury significantly increases if you forget about this precaution.
The best way to prevent another problem from taking place, like losing your grip and falling, is to be extra careful when in contact with any type of asbestos dust.
Avoid breathing dust
A tip for cleaning is to wear a mask while working in a place you suspect has asbestos.
If you are doing the job of cleaning on a regular basis, protect yourself by wearing safety glasses.
Wear a cap to keep hair from being exposed to possible airborne asbestos fibers.
Cover your clothes so they can’t be exposed with potentially asbestos-contaminated dust. A bandana will work as a disposable drop cloth.
At the end of the cleaning, shower and wash your clothes in a hot washer to remove all traces of the work.
Be careful where you wipe your hands and face.
Wash your hands thoroughly when you are done.
Hose off your shoes to remove any dust that may be tracked into the house.
When you are done hosing, dispose of the water where your pets can’t get at it.
Do not leave the water for children to find and drink it.
Wet down or mist the area
Be careful not to damage ACM or asbestos-containing materials while you are cleaning.
Obey all safety precautions and make sure to do everything in a well-ventilated area.
Gather the following equipment:
- A large bucket of water
- Gloves (latex, non-latex or nitrile are recommended)
- Mop, large cloths or disposable rags
After you have gathered your supplies, you will want to begin wiping or mopping up any visible loose debris.
This process involves covering the area with a mixture of water and a liquid soap solution to avoid raising dust.
If you wish to mist the area, use a safe low-pressure spray bottle or garden sprayers to apply water in a light mist.
How long does asbestos stay in air?
Regular care is recommended to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.
Sensitive materials like asbestos should be cleaned up immediately, as the fibers stay in air for long periods of time.
Airborne asbestos fibers settle out of the air slowly.
According to Asbestos.com, asbestos particles that are left in the air can stay there for 48 to 72 hours.
Factors such as the area’s temperature and humidity can make the time span vary significantly.
In any situation, it is recommended to not linger in an area with visible or suspected asbestos materials for longer than a few hours at a time.
Short-term asbestos exposure, either incidentally or in an occupational setting, that lasts less than few days is not a precursor to asbestos-related diseases.
The longer a person stays in the area, the more they are exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos fibers.
Prolonged or repeated exposure to asbestos can cause chronic health problems.
How do you remove asbestos from air?
Gases and microscopic particles can linger in the air and enter your lungs after asbestos removal if they are not properly cleaned up.
A substantial amount of asbestos particles are released into the air during removal, but the majority of these particles settle quickly to the ground or bind to surfaces nearby.
Still, if you disturb the area where repair work is being done, even very small amounts can go airborne and settle in new locations.
Read More: How Long Do Balcony Repairs Take?
Asbestos fibers are completely insoluble and too small, so they cannot be detected with the naked eye.
Because of their size and their ability to stay airborne for a long time, the best way to clean up asbestos is with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) air filter.
This type of air cleaner is designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, significantly smaller than most asbestos fibers.
Asbestos removal must take into consideration that asbestos can be re-released if disturbed by people or unwanted air movement.
Sufficiently clean asbestos-free air is a must using proper safety equipment and cleaned up with a HEPA filter vacuum which is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA under AHER program conducts inspections and removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials.
If you attach anything to the balcony, such as a chair or TV, and it has any traces of asbestos, then it’s time to go on the defensive.
Don’t take this kind of risk with your health – it is much easier to just get rid of any offending material before you have problems.
But, if you have a problem anyway, then the fastest way to clean asbestos is to call in a certified expert.
There are many ways of removing some toxic materials from your air, but we already covered two of the most effective – HEPA filters and mopping or wiping with wet cloth.
Some are more efficient than others, so it is best to err on the side of caution and make use of them all.
So now that you know how to clean balcony asbestos, go ahead and make your home safer by using any of these tips and techniques.
The more you know, the better chance you have of avoiding health problems – and that’s what it’s all about after all!