Asbestos in Heating Ducts: All You Need to Know About Your Exposure Risk

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Michael Foster
April 12, 2024
Heating & Cooling
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Throughout the mid-twentieth century, most manufacturers considered Asbestos one of the best materials for flexible duct connectors. It is a once-popular mineral, widely employed in various building materials and made its way into hundreds of commercial uses.
In older homes, Asbestos is frequently wrapped around water boilers and hot water pipes, ceiling and flooring materials, or used to tape sections of heating ducts together. Asbestos in heating ducts, if left undisturbed, is innocuous and only becomes harmful when damaged or transferred. When the fibers become airborne, they are breathed, endangering people's health.
Asbestos in the duct is virtually fireproof, extremely durable, and flexible enough to be woven into various fabrics. Flexible duct connectors typically contained significant amounts of chrysotile Asbestos during their peak use in America. Also, Asbestos in heating ducts is now widely recognized as the sole cause of Mesothelioma and other lethal Asbestos-related illnesses. Because the fibers are too small to see with the naked eye, it is often impossible to tell whether It is embedded in a material. Asbestos inside ductwork causes serious respiratory problems, so thorough testing and cleaning are required to ensure your home is free from this harmful material.

The Role of Asbestos in Ducts

Metal air ducts are commonly used to connect rooms in a building to facilitate the operation of HVAC equipment and systems. When the ducts are directly connected to air conditioners, heaters, and air handlers, the vibrations and noise produced may rattle throughout your entire house's ventilation system.
For several decades in the mid-twentieth century, most manufacturers considered putting Asbestos inside the ductwork. Asbestos in the duct is virtually fireproof, extremely durable, and flexible enough to be woven into a wide range of materials. Flexible duct connectors contained significant amounts of chrysotile Asbestos during their peak use in America.
However, the usage of this material began to decline dramatically in the late 1970s, not just in the United States but across most industrialized nations. The link between exposure and the risk of debilitating lung diseases was becoming more widely known. In the US, the last mine closed in 2002, effectively ending over a century of producing this material.

Asbestos Exposure Inside Heating Ducts

Asbestos, valued for its ability to prevent fires and resist high temperatures, was widely utilized in lagging cloth, insulation, and pipe wrap – goods typically used by individuals in the HVAC business.
Before 1980, everyone used these harmful-containing materials like pipe wrap or lagging cloth to seal and reinforce any leaks or weaknesses identified in sheet-metal air ducts. Such materials functioned by keeping any possible air outflows inside the air ducts.
Other HVAC and heating duct products that may include it are as follows:
  • Adhesives
  • Asbestos paper
  • Duct dampers
  • Duct wraps
As these goods corrode and degrade, they can offer major health dangers. Individual asbestos fibers can become free when such materials degrade and be accidentally swallowed or consumed by anybody around.
Those concerned whether the heating ducts in their building or house contain Asbestos should seek quick assistance from a trained specialist, who can evaluate whether this material is present and constitutes a health danger.

The Risk of Asbestos

Asbestos-containing wraps and tapes were frequently directly put inside heating vents in older homes. The inside surfaces of the ducts are normally wrapped with metal foil to prevent direct contact with the air stream. Though they are uncommon, Asbestos in the ducts represents a health concern.
The fibers may be introduced into the system's air stream if the ducts are ripped or pierced. Removal or repair by a professional asbestos contractor is suggested in such cases. Detection normally necessitates the removal of the duct covers, which may easily harm the vents because they are frequently painted. The removal may potentially cause damage to the next wall.
So if your home has Asbestos-containing heating ducts, you should avoid attempting to remove the torn or damaged pipe wrapping. When the insulation around pipes, boilers, and furnaces is removed or interfered with, fibers or dust are released. And when you inhale these fibers, they become lodged in your body's natural lining. Your body has no method for eliminating the fibers trapped. Microscopic Asbestos dust or fiber has no odor, and symptoms of exposure may not appear for many years.

Who is At Risk of Asbestos Exposure?

While homeowners and do-it-yourself renovators are certainly at risk of Asbestos exposure as asbestos-containing products on or inside their heating ducts deteriorate and break down, former HVAC techniciansare frequently regarded as being at the highest risk of developing Mesothelioma or other related diseases from the exposure.
Nowadays, you're only likely to come into contact with it if your job requires you to damage any residual in ancient buildings. And some are as follows:
  • Construction and demolition workers
  • Professional air duct technicians
  • Insulation factory workers
  • Steelworkers
  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC maintenance technicians
  • Electricians
Asbestos fibers might have been inhaled by anybody who installed, repaired, or replaced heating ducts. The fibers may easily attach to clothing and other objects and be mistakenly transported home with workers, putting their families in danger and the HVAC workers in frequent contact.
Fortunately, the danger of exposure is lower, whose houses were built after 1980 since they began to be phased out of building and construction materials. While Asbestos in air ducts is covered with products like pipe wrap, lagging paper, and duct dampers are no longer manufactured, anybody who worked with HVAC systems installed before the 1980s is at a higher risk of acquiring Mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness.

Several Asbestos-Related Diseases

Asbestos in air ducts is one of the leading causes of Mesothelioma, a particularly lethal cancer with a life expectancy of only 4-18 months after diagnosis.
Mesothelioma is a rare illness that affects around 3,000 Americans each year. Most people who develop related diseases have a history of regular exposure to Asbestos in the vents at work.
Exposures can also cause the following health conditions:
  • Asbestosis - A non-cancerous condition that causes significant scarring and lung damage. It is often characterized by shortness of breath and chronic coughing.
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer - When Asbestos fibers become stuck inside a person's lungs, they can cause long-term inflammation, leading to the development of asbestos lung cancer.
Asbestos in the vents exposure has also been linked to various forms of cancer, including gastrointestinal, esophageal, colon, rectal, and stomach cancer.

Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Conditions

Breathing in Asbestos fibers over a long period causes lung scarring. So it is vital to invest in an effective Asbestos vent to prevent the following symptoms from exposure:
  • breathing difficulty
  • recurring cough
  • wheezing
  • severe exhaustion (fatigue)
  • chest or shoulder pain
  • clubbed (swollen) fingertips in more advanced situations
Symptoms may not develop for 20 to 30 years. But air duct cleaning Asbestos will save the day! Contact a trusted HVAC professional for a thorough Asbestos vent cleaning!

Your Asbestos Removal Alternatives

While an expert lab test may be required to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, many asbestos-containing construction materials are straightforward to detect. However, many asbestos products used in older homes in the United States lack labeling. It's not always clear just by glancing at the ACMs.
If you are remodeling an older property, be on the lookout for unexpected sources of ACMs. Get a professional evaluation before beginning your restoration job, and if necessary, employ a professional for the removal. Homeowners should not collect samples for testing on their own. It is always preferable to delegate testing to a professional.
Cleaning ducts when you believe they contain ACMs is unquestionably not a good idea. Before cleaning the ducts, have the Asbestos removed. The materials may release loose fibers when damaged, disturbed, repaired, torn, cut, drilled, sanded, sawed, scraped, scratched, or improperly removed.
It is against the law in the United States to hire a professional contractor for effective and safe cleaning of air ducts with Asbestos. Abatement specialists are trained to remove it safely and effectively. Furthermore, after the removal, they undertake air monitoring to guarantee you breathe safe indoor air in your house and meet appropriate criteria.

Contact Home Alliance Today!

Despite knowing about the cancer dangers of Asbestos inside ductwork, companies continued to incorporate the harmful material into their goods and expose their personnel and the general public to it. Over the last few decades, these companies' cold and reckless actions have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Home Alliance, a reputable HVAC and ductwork cleaning company with many years of expertise, has protected thousands of individuals and families from exposing Asbestos on ductwork. We have helped numerous families suffering from Mesothelioma and other Asbestos-related illnesses by offering high-quality air duct cleaning Asbestos. Our services, such as cleaning air ducts with Asbestos, are affordable so everyone can afford an Asbestos-free home or building!
So, when questioning, "Who should I call for air duct services?" Look no further than Home Alliance! We are your trusted choice for a risk-free home! Contact us today for cleaning Asbestos on the ductwork, or click here to book online!