Generally, we think only of asbestos as an airborne problem. You get near it when it is being demolished and you have a problem, right?
We find that there are more ways to get asbestos fibres inside of ourselves.
There’s quite a vast range of construction materials still using asbestos;
- Siding shingles
- Textured paint and patching
- Artificial ashes and embers used in fireplaces
- Vinyl tiles
- Vinyl flooring
- Stovetop insulation pads
- Walls and floors around woodburning stoves
- Hot water and steam pipes
- Oil and coal furnaces
This advice comes from the WPWG, established under the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013 with responsibility for developing a nationally consistent approach to managing asbestos-cement water and sewer pipes.
Drinking water can be contaminated by asbestos fibres. It may simply come from pollution, geologic erosion, or the disintegrating of asbestos cement pipe.
WPWG also expressed concern that asbestos could end up in streams, rivers, and finally our water supply.
There are problems in resolving the very thin, small chrysotile fibrils. The sheer size makes it difficult to use the scanning electron microscope in normal water analysis. The fibers detected in drinking water are almost entirely short fibres, considered to contribute little or no risk to public health.
Though ingestion may be a rarer cause compared to inhaled airborne fibres, residents in Texas and California have become more concerned with this possibility after experiencing asbestos-contaminated drinking water. Early this year, residents in two small Texas towns faced the disturbing possibility of drinking water containing more asbestos fibers than allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency had seeped into their water supply.
Asbestos, lead, and many other dangerous contaminants are still a problem in municipal water supplies around the world. Oour infrastructure ages -and pipes corrode; releasing asbestos fibers into the same water that flows straight to your kitchen faucet.
Laboratories in several US cities have been checking for asbestos in drinking water.
It seems that as a result of aggregate studies, several populations of U.S. water consumers have been exposed to significant numbers of asbestos fibers in their drinking water at some time.
One sample of water in South Carolina collected after a length of asbestos cement pipe which had been attacked by corrosive water contained over 500 x 106 chrysotile fibers/l. Drinking water in other asbestos cement pipe distribution systems in Florida, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania have been shown to contain concentrations of chrysotile asbestos over 10 x 106 fibers/I.
For a very long time asbestos cement pipes have been used for drinking water distribution. There are many kilometers to be found all over the world.
Although few countries now install asbestos cement pipe, primarily because of issues with handling, there appears to be no concern for the health of consumers receiving the water and no programs to specifically replace asbestos cement pipe for this reason.
There is also potential for exposure to asbestos fibers in drinking water by inhalation of aerosol droplets or from fibers that are trapped on clothing during washing and which are subsequently released into the atmosphere. This has been studied and except in an extreme case, there was no measurable increase in the number of fibers in the indoor atmosphere of houses. However, it should remain a concern to all when asbestos is present in our daily lives.
How to Stay Safe
Obviously, asbestos isn’t the only contaminant in our water supply. Today contaminants include chlorine, chloramines, fluoride, THM’s, PFOAs.. and many, many more. So without a method of protecting ourselves and our families we are slow collectors of all of these nasties. It could be said that we are microdosing ourselves.
Here at AlkaWay we are (and have been for 21 years) Australia’s professional experts in tailoring a filtration system to your own circumstances.
Obviously a whole house system is ideal, but we can help you decide which way to go based on budget, water supply characteristics, usage, number of users etc.