Safe handling procedures of asbestos in windows

Posted on: 23 April 2018

The health risks of asbestos have been well documented in recent years. Indeed, asbestos fibres have been shown to cause various types of cancer and respiratory diseases.

Many parts of older homes (particularly homes built before and during the 1970s) have been shown to contain asbestos. This is because the material was widely used as a heat insulator and fire retardant in roofs, walls, carpet and floors. But did you know that asbestos could also be present in your windows?

Where can asbestos be found in windows?

In line with the usefulness of asbestos as a sealing material, it is no surprise that many older homes have asbestos present in their window linings. Asbestos can easily expand and contract, which make it an excellent choice for strengthening windows against fire damage and inclement weather. As a result, asbestos was commonly used for window putty, where it would seal the glass panels to the frame and the surrounding walls.

Older window panels are another potential source of asbestos. When sealant was placed in-between the glass and the panel, asbestos was used to provide the strength and flexibility to the glass as required.

High-risk and low-risk activities around your windows

If you know or suspect that your windows contain asbestos, there are certain important safety precautions to take. In most cases, asbestos is safe as long as it is not disturbed. It is the asbestos fibres that are known to cause damage. These fibres are released anytime asbestos-containing materials are disturbed.

You will typically be exposed to minimal risk when you remove window casings, clean your windowpanes or regularly open/close your windows. However, you stand the risk of releasing asbestos fibres when you remove window panes using a knife, remove window frames by hammering them with a chisel or knock on the glass of your windows with a hammer in an attempt to remove them.

Handling asbestos during window replacement

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns that you should have with asbestos is when you plan to replace your windows. Removing entire windowpanes and casings can cause the putty to be disturbed, releasing asbestos fibres into the air. The contractors replacing your windows should adhere to strict safety procedures for asbestos handling.

Some basic steps they should follow include not using abrasive tools such as drills and grinders when removing the windows. They should also take a sample of your window putty to test for asbestos content. Talk to an asbestos removal professional for more information.