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Have you ever delved into the regulations related to asbestos management and removal? If you have then friable asbestos and non-friable asbestos are terms you must have come across. Friable asbestos has very strict regulations associated with it related to clearance, inspection and air quality monitoring.

The word ‘friable’, comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to crumble’ and hence as suggested by the word itself, friable material is one that easily crumbles. Don’t confuse friable with the word ‘fry’ as these two are not related!

Friable and Non-friable Asbestos

Friable asbestos is more prone to crumbling and thus releasing fibres into the air. If proper precautionary measures and management protocols are not followed, these fibres can get inhaled by humans and enter their lungs. Asbestos fibres lead to many fatal lung diseases and long-term exposure is also related to cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. A very important point to note is that the difference between friable and non-friable asbestos is not absolute and permanent. Over time and with use, non-friable asbestos becomes friable and starts releasing fibres into the air.

Bonded or non-friable asbestos is the commonly found building material. In its original and undamaged form, it is quite safe to use and be around. But over the years, with exposure to weather and general wear and tear, the material gets damaged and becomes friable. Bonded asbestos can also become friable with human intervention or activity. Therefore, it is important to practice utmost care and caution during renovations. Before you drill into a wall or rip up the floor tiles, ensure you are not putting yourself and your family at risk.

Handling Friable Asbestos

Bonded asbestos becomes friable when disturbed or subjected to certain conditions. When this happens it becomes a source of health risks to people in the surrounding. If asbestos containing material becomes friable, then proper steps are to be taken to prevent exposure and any health damage.

Here are a few steps to handle friable asbestos:

  1. - Firstly, enclose the material in airtight packagings, like plastic or a permanent covering.
  2. - Secondly, you can apply a bonding agent to the asbestos to make it less friable and thus reduce exposure.

Professional Asbestos Management

If your home has friable ACM (asbestos containing material) or you suspect its presence, do not attempt handling it on your own. The first thing that you must do is to hire a qualified professional technician to test and inspect the presence of asbestos. If they detect the presence of asbestos in your home, you should hire a professional who specialises in the removal and disposal of asbestos.

ACMs when handled properly and used for their intended purpose. But people must be aware of the possible scope of contamination and acknowledge the fact that such a possibility exists.

As asbestos exposure can lead to serious health risks, it is important to be cognizant of the presence of asbestos and understand where it might be present in our homes or surroundings. One must remember, that a safe asbestos exposure level is zero!