It’s understandable that one would get the two confused, as both words are associated with toxic, bad, and make it go away! We’re glad you’re here so we can iron out the confusion. So, is asbestos mold?
Asbestos is very different than mold yet they both have important similarities. Asbestos and mold are toxic when inhaled into the lungs, and when possible, are eliminated when found in homes. Asbestos can be found in building materials, for example, while mold can grow naturally in humid conditions.
- Is Asbestos Mold?
- What Is Asbestos?
- Is Asbestos Dangerous?
- How Long Does It Take for Asbestos to Affect You?
- What Has Asbestos in It?
- How to Know If You Have Asbestos in Your House
- Is Asbestos Still Used Today?
- What Is Black Mold?
- What Causes Mold?
- Black Mold in My Bathroom
- How to Stop Black Mold
Is Asbestos Mold?
Asbestos is not mold, yet both are significant risks to those living or working in a home or building that is affected by either toxic substance. Both asbestos and mold expose people and pets to potential health dangers and vulnerabilities.
Let’s go over the key differences between asbestos and mold so that you have a better understanding of each and why you should
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral used in a variety of products for centuries. It is made up of long, thin fibers resistant to heat, fire, and chemical damage. Asbestos has many benefits, including its low cost and durability. According to the EPA, asbestos also poses a serious health risk if inhaled.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and cause a variety of problems, including cancer. As a result, the use of asbestos has been largely banned in the United States.
However, it can still be found in some older homes and buildings. If you suspect that your home contains asbestos, it is important to have it tested by a qualified professional.
Is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos can be harmful to human health if inhaled. The tiny mineral fibers of asbestos can become lodged in the lungs, leading to conditions such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Although asbestos is no longer used in most new construction, it can still be found in older buildings.
Severe lung damage can still happen when old asbestos is disturbed and becomes airborne.
OSHA has set strict regulations in the workplace when it comes to asbestos. As a result, it is important to take precautions when working with or near asbestos-containing materials.
When disturbed, asbestos fibers can be released into the air, where they can be inhaled by unsuspecting people. For this reason, it is important to always consult with a professional before undertaking any work that could disturb asbestos-containing materials.
How Long Does It Take for Asbestos to Affect You?
The Mayo Clinic explains that in most cases, it takes 10–40 years after the initial exposure to asbestos before the symptoms of long-term exposure become apparent.
Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
Although the signs of asbestos contact may not rear their ugly head until many years down the road, the symptoms may include:
- A crackling dry sound from the lungs when inhaling
- Rounder, wider fingertips and toes, known as “clubbing”
- Dry cough that doesn’t go away
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Labored breathing
Asbestos fibers are able to enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Once these fibers are inside the body, they can travel to different organs and become embedded in tissues.
The amount of time it takes for asbestos to cause health effects depends on a variety of factors, including the intensity and duration of exposure, as well as the individual’s health and age.
In general, it can take years or even decades for asbestos-related diseases to develop. However, some people may experience health problems within a few months of exposure.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to monitor your health and seek medical attention if you experience any unusual symptoms.
What Has Asbestos in It?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral that has been used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications for many years. It is well known for its resistance to heat, fire, and chemicals, which makes it an ideal material for insulation, soundproofing, and fireproofing.
A variety of building materials that may contain asbestos include:
- Floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Pipe insulation
- Roofing shingles
If you suspect that a material contains asbestos, it is important to have asbestos testing done professionally before disturbing it. Having any of these toxic materials in your home should not be ignored.
The last thing you want is to start tearing apart something with asbestos and then accidentally inhaling its deadly fibers. Asbestos removal should most definitely be done by a professional, as inhaling asbestos debris can be fatal.
How to Know If You Have Asbestos in Your House
If you suspect that you may have asbestos in your home, it is important to have it tested as soon as possible. While asbestos fibers are not harmful when they are intact and undisturbed, they can become airborne and inhaled if the material is damaged or disturbed.
If you have asbestos in your home, it is important for the removal of asbestos to be done by a qualified professional. In the meantime, avoid disturbing the material and keep the area well-ventilated.
The bottom line here is that you won’t truly know if you have asbestos in your home unless you have a suspected material professionally tested. Contact a local asbestos specialist in your area.
Sure it may cost a bit to have the item you are suspicious of tested, but the peace of mind you will gain in return is immeasurable.
Is Asbestos Still Used Today?
Due to the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, its use has been sharply curtailed in recent years. In the United States, asbestos was banned from use in insulation and fireproofing materials in 1989, and its use has been further restricted by the EPA since then.
As a result of these restrictions, asbestos is no longer used in many industries where it was once commonplace. However, it is still used in some industrial applications, such as the production of cement and brake pads.
Given the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, its continued use is controversial.
However, for certain applications where there is no viable substitute, the benefits of using asbestos may outweigh the risks.
What Is Black Mold?
When it comes to mold, there are many different colors and types. Black mold, also called stachybotrys chartarum, is a type of mold that can be particularly dangerous. This is because black mold produces toxins, known as mycotoxins, which can cause a range of health problems.
Symptoms of black mold exposure include respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and skin irritation.
In severe cases, black mold exposure can lead to memory problems, hearing loss, and even death. If you suspect that you have black mold in your home or office, it is important to contact a professional for testing and removal.
Taking action quickly can help to prevent serious health problems down the road.
What Causes Mold?
Mold is a type of fungi that thrives in damp, humid environments. It can grow on virtually any type of organic material, including paper, wood, and cloth. When mold spores come into contact with moisture, they begin to grow and reproduce. Mold is often visible as a fuzzy or slimy growth on surfaces.
When the humidity in a home is above 50%, mold can become a problem. The excessive moisture in the air combined with moderately warm temperatures is a prime breeding ground for mold.
In some cases, it may also cause staining or discoloration. While mold is not inherently dangerous and won’t cause too much trouble for the average person, it can cause serious health problems for people with allergies or respiratory conditions.
It can also cause damage to buildings and other structures. The best way to prevent mold growth is to control moisture levels and keep humidity levels low.
Mold may be found in many areas of a home, including but not limited to:
- Crawl spaces
If mold does develop in an area of your home, it is important to clean it up immediately to prevent further spread.
Black Mold in My Bathroom
If you suspect you have black mold in your bathroom, it is important to take action immediately. Remove any wet or damp materials from the area and thoroughly clean all surfaces with a bleach, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide (3%) solution.
You may also need to replace any porous materials, such as drywall or carpeting, that have been contaminated by the mold.
Taking these steps will help to ensure that your bathroom is safe and free of black mold.
How Can You Remove Black Mold from Your Bathroom?
For black mold removal from a bathroom, you will need the following materials:
- Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or bleach
- A stiff-bristled brush
- Rubber gloves
- Face mask (recommended for those with allergy sufferer or those with respiratory illnesses)
Step 1. Ventilate the Room
Open a couple of windows in or near the bathroom for good air circulation. This will dilute the air with fresh air so that any airborne mold spores are less likely to be inhaled into the lungs.
Step 2. Prepare Your Mold-Killing Solution
So here’s the thing. You will read a lot on the internet suggesting you use bleach mixed with water to kill mold. And although bleach does indeed kill mold, the EPA advises not to use bleach as a mold killer.
Below are three solutions you may use to kill mold:
- Undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle. And not to worry, as the vinegar odor disappears once the vinegar dries. The vinegar will also help remove the musty odors of the mold and mildew.
- Combine one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) and one part water in a spray bottle.
- Mix one cup of bleach with one gallon of water in a small bucket.
Step 3. Time to Scrub
Be sure to scrub thoroughly to remove all traces of the mold. Finally, rinse the area with clean water and allow it to air dry. You may need to repeat this process several times to completely remove the mold. If the mold persists, you may need to call a professional for assistance.
How to Stop Black Mold
There are several things you can do to stop black mold from taking up residence in your bathroom. Below are some ideas to take into consideration to prevent mold growth:
- Open a window or turn on the exhaust fan every time you shower, and leave the fan running for at least 30 minutes after you’re done.
- Keep the surfaces of your bathroom clean and dry.
- Wipe down the fixtures and walls after every use.
- Mop the floor on a regular basis.
- Consider using mold-resistant products in your bathroom. Many brands now offer mildew-resistant paint, caulk, and grout.
- Use a dehumidifier if you live in a climate that tends to be on the humid side to control the excessive moisture in the air.
By taking these precautions, you can help to keep your bathroom mold-free.
Mold and asbestos differ greatly, yet they also have many similar characteristics. When detected in dwellings, mold and asbestos should be removed as they are hazardous when inhaled into the lungs. Mold may naturally develop in humid environments whereas asbestos can be found in construction materials. Knowing the difference between asbestos and mold will empower you to be on the lookout and know how to proceed accordingly.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Mayo Clinic
- Mesothelioma Hope
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.