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What is loose-fill asbestos insulation? Why is it so dangerous?

One of the most dangerous forms of asbestos is loose-fill asbestos.

Asbestos acts as a great insulator and is extremely resistant to fire. Plus, it's cheap. Being fibrous, it could be woven into other materials to increase the fire resistance of numerous products while increasing its durability. That is why it was used in so many applications for decades, and continues to be used in some manufacturing processes and products today.

In many of these products, asbestos does not pose a danger unless it is in bad repair or undergoing demolition.

Friable asbestos is dangerous

Asbestos is dangerous when its microscopic fibers are inhaled. Over time, the accumulated fibers cause inflammation and an increased cancer risk. Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, is caused by asbestos fibers.

But asbestos must be inhaled to be dangerous. This happens when fibers become airborne. When it is in this state, it is known as friable asbestos.

Loose-fill asbestos often becomes friable

Loose-fill asbestos is different than some other products and materials that contain the dangerous mineral fiber. Loose-fill asbestos is already made up of small pieces. Over time, these small pieces disintegrate. Asbestos fibers then escape into the air, where they can be inhaled by anyone near.

Loose-fill asbestos is not woven into a durable material, such as concrete. Instead, it is sprayed on in attic floors or empty spaces in buildings. Depending on the specific product, loose-fill asbestos can be made almost entirely of the dangerous carcinogen. This means any disturbance at all can create risk, and it must be handled extremely carefully.

How to spot loose-fill asbestos

Loose-fill asbestos is usually a loose, gray material that was sprayed on in attics. If there is any doubt whatsoever about whether the material is loose-fill asbestos, get it checked immediately.

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