Asbestos can get on your clothes

Asbestos contaminated site The underestimated danger

SEND DATEThu, July 13, 2017 | 10:00 pm | SWR television

Asbestos was long considered a miracle fiber and was used in houses for decades - until it was banned. Is that also the end of the danger? Unfortunately not.

Because asbestos is still found in facades, window sills, fire doors, heating insulation and floors. Almost every second house is affected - and many residents are unaware of this danger, as Frank Heinemann knows! The pollutant remover from Laubach in Hesse is currently moving out more and more to solve such asbestos problem cases. "Many think that the asbestos is no longer so current. But it is current! The numbers are constantly increasing - so that we have to get more and more asbestos out of the buildings."

Asbestos removal is currently increasing extremely!

The reason: For decades, asbestos building materials were considered extremely cheap! - Until they were banned in 1993, millions of them were installed in private houses because of this. And that's where they are to this day! In the meantime, many of these houses are facing a generation change. They are inherited or sold on - including the carcinogenic contaminated sites! And they have to get out now! Extreme caution is required, despite all protective measures! If the floor panels break, carcinogenic fibers can be released! Such fibers are also often found in the floor adhesive. If it is removed incorrectly, the room air is completely contaminated! If you try to lend a hand here because you do not recognize the asbestos, you are exposing yourself to an enormous risk, knows pollutant remover Frank Heinemann: "That is actually a huge danger - the house owners tear it out themselves, distribute the fibers throughout the house, and are above all unprotected themselves, and thereby endanger their health. "

In the event of incorrect renovation, fibers can be found in living spaces for decades

Alexander Kannwischer from the environmental laboratory of TÜV Hessen knows this problem! The environmental engineer is responsible for the analysis of toxins. When taking samples and measuring the air in the room, he has to determine again and again; A lot often goes wrong with in-house renovations: "We regularly come across significantly increased indoor air concentrations or asbestos contamination in residential buildings when doing our own renovations. The materials that are not dismantled sometimes buzz around for years and are deposited; they can be whirled up again and again. And that is not good!" But why is asbestos so dangerous anyway? - The reason for this is a property of asbestos fibers: They can split up further and further down the length. Once they are inhaled, they not only stick permanently in the lungs. There the finely split fibers irritate the organ tissue until scars or an aggressive cancerous tumor can develop!

Cancer caused by asbestos is tantamount to a death sentence

David Groneberg has been observing for years how explosive this can be. The occupational physician at the Frankfurt University Hospital regularly prepares reports on asbestos diseases. "If the asbestos fibers get in via the lungs, then they rage. There is an inflammatory stimulus that lasts for years, decades. And after a latency period of 10, 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 years, it can lead to serious types of cancer. Namely lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma. Is equivalent to a death sentence! " Over 1400 deaths annually are registered nationwide by occupational physicians such as David Groneberg. And that is just the beginning! Due to the long latency period, the experts expect a further increase in cancer cases due to asbestos by 2020. Tradespeople and construction workers who have often come into contact with asbestos in the past are often affected. But it can also affect normal residents. If you do the wrong thing yourself when renovating. And thus unknowingly contaminate rooms with asbestos fibers for years. Or if bystanders move in here later!

Firmly bound and lightly bound asbestos fibers

But are all asbestos fibers equally dangerous? Experts differentiate between firmly bound fibers - for example in window sills and cement boards. These fibers are extremely tightly connected to the building material. If this is not drilled or damaged, hardly any fibers can escape here. They are therefore more likely to be considered harmless.
But it becomes extremely dangerous with weakly bound asbestos, says Alexander Kannwischer from TÜV Hessen! For example in floor adhesives or in what is known as a spray-on compound to conceal heating pipes and steel girders. "The fibers can only be released by drafts or vibrations. But especially when you work here, for example drilling. Then an enormous number of fibers come out of the material. The indoor air concentration is several million fibers. And of course that becomes really dangerous!

Fiber dust from old insulation wool causes symptoms similar to those of asbestos

At the University Clinic in Frankfurt, David Groneberg has something else to worry about: artificial mineral fibers such as glass, mineral and rock wool! To this day, millions of these insulation materials have been installed in facades and attics. If you come into contact with their fibers, they can cause skin irritation and swelling. However, the fiber dust from old insulation wool is a cause for concern. It is almost as dangerous as asbestos, Gröneberg knows: If you carry out renovation work or renovation work at home, you can come across these old fibers. And then you have to be extremely careful that you wear protective clothing. That you don't breathe them in because they can theoretically lead to lung cancer! "David Groneberg therefore regularly carries out preventive examinations for craftsmen. As the example of asbestos shows - even decades later, it is difficult to get hold of the dangers posed by high-risk building materials Handle.

Protection and precautionary measures when disposing of asbestos are vital

So a suit and face mask are a must! Just like in Bad Nauheim. The asbestos-containing soil has now been removed. Now the pollutants have to seal the room with residual fiber binder! And in order to rule out fiber pollution for later use, the room air is then measured. Only then can the rooms be released! But one big problem still remains: the disposal of contaminated sites. Because, according to pollutant remover Frank Heinemann, asbestos is considered to be hazardous waste: "The fibers are so resistant that they would only be destroyed at well over 1000 degrees. What most waste incineration plants cannot do without a high expenditure of energy and costs. For this reason these asbestos-containing building materials are dumped. " Frank Heinemann therefore drives the hazardous waste well packaged to the landfill in Wiesbaden. Here it is buried underground - until it is dug up again at some point, centuries later - maybe -. Because even if asbestos is harmless to the groundwater - it does not rot!

Dirk Kunze

As of: July 13, 2017, 9:00 a.m.