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Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Vince S., Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Vince S.

    Vince S. Resident Former Bassist

    Jan 24, 2003
    At work today, I had to transfer about 5 file cabinets worth of folders/papers into 20 cardboard boxes for storage. The cabinets were upstairs in the office attic. The attic is actually really a platform that sits between the office and the factory. There usually is never anyone up there, and anytime anyone goes up, it's usually for less than 5 minutes to grab some storage materials.

    While I was working, I noticed some fluffy, yellow-grayish material sticking out of the wall where pipes were connected to them. I wondered if it might be asbestos or not but kept on working anyway. I was up in the attic for maybe less than 2 hours total, and I kept walking back downstairs to get water etc.

    I asked my supervisor about it, and he said to show it to him. He took a look and said it was "probably fiberglass insulation." Later on in the day, I talked to another supervisor for whom I work, and she said there was most likely asbestos up there cause the building is over 50 years old, but the likelihood that it has broken free is rare.

    I'm still a bit freaked out about it. I know asbestos can cause all sorts of problems like cancer and lung disease. I'm not sure what to think at this point. I'm might ask one of the factory foremen or techs to come up with me tomorrow to check it out.

    Just wanted to get it out.

  2. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    I'm pretty sure that you have to have regular exposure to asbestos for it to be harmful to your health. Certainly don't take my word for it, though.
  3. jade


    Mar 8, 2002
    I think that's insulation too. The insulation is yellow and most likely gotten grey over the years. I believe abestos is white and is usually sprayed on the ceiling. It usually doesnt get into the air until there's a leak.

    I wont worry too much.
  4. Asbestos isn't like radiation, it doesn't somehow magically go through the air and affect you. The fibers must be disturbed to become airborne, then and only then can you inhale them--just getting some on your skin doesn't pose a threat. In fact, not all types of asbestos fibers are harmful to your health.

    Many buildings leave the asbestos intact, as long as it's intact--that's actually less of a threat than tearing everything apart to remove the stuff.

    This does sound more like fiberglass or cellulose or even rock wool insulation. Builders would insulate the steam pipes with asbestos, but asbestos was too expensive to insulate a building's walls with it.

    (being an engineer, I had to take asbestos abatement classes....)
  5. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Its not asbestos. I've seen the stuff you are talking about... It is used to insulate pipes around here.
  6. Vince S.

    Vince S. Resident Former Bassist

    Jan 24, 2003
    Thanks for responding guys. Is fiberglass insulation the stuff that's wrapped in brown colored paper? I looked in my utility room earlier and we have that stuff in our house that looks like what I saw in the office, except it's pink instead of yellow. The stuff at the office was just sticking out, but there was some brown paper I think (looking back in hindsight).

    The whole asbestos thing got me thinking: A few years ago we got our bathroom remodeled. Our house was built in 1976, before EPA started banning asbestos in certain building materials. Our ceilings are the "popcorn" plaster type ceilings with asbestos, though low percentage from what I've read. I don't recall the contractor ever sealing off the bathroom or seeing any kind of hazmat gear when the ceiling was taken down. Aren't contractors supposed to test for asbestos first? Now that I think of it, this was probably a risk for my family and me, but this happened a few years ago, so whatever damage is done has been done. Would a low percent (3-8 percent) of asbestos in ceiling material pose a threat? Even though this one happened a few years ago I'd like to know.

  7. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Oh. Ha... I thought you were talking about a type of insulation that foams and expands...

    What you saw is just standard fiber glass insulation.
  8. My elementary school had asbestos in the ceiling tiles. When everybody made a big deal about it they sent a letter out to all the current and past students informing them that they were going to renovate it to remove it. I went to school there for about 6 years, and I haven't died or developed cancer, yet... :help:
  9. Vince S.

    Vince S. Resident Former Bassist

    Jan 24, 2003
    How long ago did you go to that school? From what I've read it takes up to 20+ years for any asbestos-related diseases to develop.

    What really is getting to me now is the fact that our bathroom was remodeled and the contractor never called in an asbestos specialist, despite the fact that most older acoustical ceilings contain asbestos. Can someone correct me if I'm wrong?

    I asked my parents about it and they don't think there is a problem. Sadly, if we were exposed to asbestos from the remodeling project, the stuff would probably still be in the air in my house. I don't want to get mesothelioma/lung cancer/lung disease several years down the road.

    Any ideas or advice?

  10. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yes, the pink and yellow stuff is usually fiberglass. So, probably no reason to get paranoid.

    When I was at Princeton, they had to take down an entire building because of asbestos. It started leaking out of the roof during a particularly nasty rainstorm, and the end result was that they had EPA-type people there for over three months, removing the stuff, before they gutted the whole building.

    I would think, that if there was an asbestos issue in your neighborhood, you'd have people jumping all over it faster than you can say "reconstruction".

    At least that's one benefit of trial lawyers and investigative reporters. :D
  11. I started going there when I was 5, which was around 1987, so I should have a few good years left in me :)

    Seriously though, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It can cause problems, but its not guaranteed, and I think you got a pretty low dose of it if you got any at all.
  12. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    They're removing asbestos from the Physics building I'm working in this week. Luckily it is only in one hallway near the boiler and everything is sealed off like some sort of biohazard zone.
  13. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yeah, isn't it wild how those guys "suit up" for the cleanup? :D
  14. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    I currently work at a lab of a renovation consulting office, so I've handled some asbestos too.

    I'd say that yellow/pink stuff is regular insulation wool, so no problem with that. It can turn gray after a while. Asbestos wools are usually blue in color and can become a problem in time, as the binder inside the wool deteriorates within few decades and the wool starts to dust.

    However, if you want to go take another look, asbestos wool is stiffer and heavier than regular insulation wool, so if the stuff feels light and springly it more likely is just regular material.

    However, asbestos was also used in insulating boards, sold under Minerite name around Scandinavia at least. This stuff appears as if it was solid, pressed gray mix of clay and cardboard, bit heavy and usually something quarter, two quarters of an inch thick. This stuff is usually located somewhere where you need insulation but don't have space for a 4-5" slab of cheap fibre glass, for example around connecting window frames.

    In minerite, asbestos is binded quite well, but the boards are somewhat fragile and if they crack they release some of the contained stuff in to the air.

    As previously noted, asbestos is dangerous only if it gets airborne and inhaled. However, even if it asbestos sticks to your lungs, a brief contact with the material isn't fatal or even that dangerous. I've chatted with construction guys who were putting the minerite into the buildings 20-30 years ago, cutting the boards with buzzsaws, saws, knives and whatnot without any protection, and still get zero response in tests.

    Then again, if there's a possiblility there's asbestos in the building - many built before the 80's have, at least in the colder climates - it should be checked as it possibly poses a health hazard to the workers. It might be nothing to worry about, but you are right if you report this to your foremen.
  15. Vince S.

    Vince S. Resident Former Bassist

    Jan 24, 2003
    Thanks Tsal. Do you happen to know how long asbestos will hang around in the air?

    We had our bathrooms remodeled a few years ago, and the construction guys tore down the acoustic ceilings without following the proper asbestos procedures. My house was built in 1976, so asbestos was still widely used in ceiling plaster back then. I hope that my house was in the minority that did not use the asbestos-containing plaster mix. If it indeed did contain asbestos, would the levels of asbestos in my home still be where it was when the guys tore down the ceilings releasing it? With ventilation, open windows, the laws of physics, and the fact that it's been a few years, would there still be a hazardous amount of the stuff floating around?