Did I find asbestos?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by DIYer101, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. DIYer101

    DIYer101 Member

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    Location:
    Colorado
    I'm cleaning up the crawlspace in advance of having some work done down there. Not sure if what this is, but there's a "blanket" of soft fuzz down there on top of everything. Is that asbestos?

    FYI, there are lots of cobwebs hanging from the floor joists, and I'm hoping the blanket is just dust and cobwebs. The house was built in 1940 (stucco), and the crawlspace is under an addition that must've been done sometime after that. So maybe there's been a long time for things to pile up.

    Otherwise I've seen no evidence of asbestos. Just that corrugated cardboard thingy in the picture makes me suspicious.
    IMG_1667[1].JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  2. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    If it's a batt material bonded (however weakly) to the corrugated, it's far more likely to be rock wool than anything else. I've seen thin batts of horse- hair with heavy kraft facers on both sides that looked a bit like the material in the picture.

    The most common loose insulating material containing asbestos would be vermiculite, which is granular, and shiny/sparkly. Asbestos used for pipe insulation was white/gray and fiberous, but usually coated with a plaster type adhesive. Thin sheet asbestos materials were sometimes bonded to ducts or other metal surfaces, and is normally gray, sometimes with a bit of obvious weave texture, sometimes smooth. Karstolite loose fill asbestos was fibrous, but not quite as "fluffy" as the stuff in your picture. If it's asbestos it would probably be Karstolite, but I'm not convinced that it is.

    Loose fill Karstolite:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Similar loose fill asbestos:

    [​IMG]

    Vermiculite/Zonolite looks like this:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  4. DIYer101

    DIYer101 Member

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    Thank you. I'm really hoping it's just 60+ years worth of dust and spiderwebs that's built up.

    I did actually find a wrapper(?) that said something about rock wool, but I couldn't figure out what that was. The odd thing is there's no insulation down there anywhere (maybe the floor used to be insulated and somebody removed it, who knows).
     
  5. Magneto

    Magneto Member

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    Whatever that is or isn't approach it with detail to caution. Wear gloves, glasses, oxygen mask, and fully cover yourself, and when you are done dispose of the materials. Asbestos is extremely cancerous and should not be taken lightly. It has a 60% chance of giving the person who breathes it lung cancer... Anyways good luck, and keep us posted!
     
  6. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    The "extremely cancerous" is a bit hyperbolic overstatement, but it pays to not be living in an asbestos dump if that's indeed what it is.

    A 60% elevated risk for a single short-term exposure is a ridiculous overstatement. It's not even a 0.006% risk. It's probably more than a 0.000000006% risk though.

    Folks who grew up in asbestos mining towns where they used mine refuse as fill material in residential streets and yards or with big tailings piles at the edge of town are at some increased risk of cancer, but it's nothing like the increased risk of those who both worked in the mines AND smoked cigarettes. Having a bit of vermiculite in your attic or under your house isn't a very big risk at all but if you're sticking your face in it while cleaning it up there is at least some miniscule elevation to your lifetime risk of a mesothelioma diagnosis. If you make your living removing asbestos from houses and don't use the necessary precautions you are at a much higher risk than the people who live/lived in those houses.

    But even a miniscule risk of mesothelioma is worth avoiding, given the severity of the disease.


    From cancer.gov:

    "Who is at risk for an asbestos-related disease?

    Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil. However, most people do not become ill from their exposure. People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, most often in a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact."


    So if you're literally rolling in the stuff and breathing it in daily you MIGHT come down with a related cancer. But even if you did a total-slob-job of mopping it up under your house without protective gear it doesn't increase your persona risk measurably.

    Think of it as running from your car to the house during a lighting storm- the vast majority of the time you make it without getting zapped (but just one lighting hit can really mess up your whole day.)
     
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  7. Magneto

    Magneto Member

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    Stanford, Connecticut
    You make a solid point, and Its interesting to hear another take on this. I was referring to the amount of exposed asbestos I had seen in the photo. That is what I was concerned about. I was just letting the person know how dangerous it is. Mesothelioma isnt the only form of cancer that one can get from asbestos. The main one is lung cancer, which hits almost 5,000 people a year. Any little exposure can cause damage over time, and that was what I was referring too.
     
  8. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    I suppose if you inhaled 100% of the dust in the picture and it were all asbestos there would be an increased risk, eh? :confused:

    We don't know that it's asbestos in the picture, and I strongly suspect that it is not. It doesn't look very much like the commonly found asbestos insulation products. It DOES look like rock wool fluff and a bunch anonymous amorphous grunge, none of which you'd want to be inhaling during a clean up anyway.

    Most people who worked in asbestos mines did not get cancer, but many did. But that's a very different level of exposure than one clean-up job on one crawlspace.

    While mesothelioma is strongly linked to asbestos exposure, it's quite rare. Mesothelioma risk among smokers exposed to asbestos is at the same level as non-smokers with similar asbestos exposures. But for some other asbestos related cancers there's a 10x-100x amplifier effect, ESPECIALLY with lung cancer. But the risk is still total exposure related. While it's possible to tease out the increased risk among family members of asbestos miners from the statistics, it's far different working in the mine, even though those family members were regularly exposed to lower levels of asbestos brought home on the miner's clothing, car, & other items. It's also possible to tease out from statistics the increased risk of asbestos related disease from living at an intersection with stop lights prior to banning asbestos in automotive brake linings. But that risk is deeply "in the noise".

    From a public health risk point of view it's important to be mindful of those risks, but paranoia isn't really warranted. Risks of asbestos found in homes is manageable from a personal health perspective, even when the material is known to be asbestos, unlike this case. Treating it as if it were high level nuclear waste (which COULD have a 60% incidence in serious health problems, including mortality, from a single acute exposure) is just plain silly.
     
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