Economy How to protect yourself against the dangers of asbestos?

How to protect yourself against the dangers of asbestos?


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Asbestos is still a real risk in homes built before 1997. – IStock / City Presse

The homes are full of substances harmful to health. So much so that indoor pollution is now recognized as the eighth leading cause of death in the world. Although the use of asbestos has been banned in France since 1997, this natural mineral is still one of the materials that poison without our knowledge.

A material everywhere

The term “asbestos” designates two mineralogical groups (serpentines and chrysotile) with a fibrous texture which the industry, and in particular the building sector, have long used. These materials were in fact used in the composition of a multitude of construction products such as cement, cardboard, plaster, glue, paint or even resins.

Asbestos was used in particular for thermal insulation operations (including the insulation of heating and hot water pipes), for the cement used for roofs, for the floor covering of the premises in the form of vinyl-asbestos tiles, or for within storm water pipes and other garbage chutes.

The health issue

This was before we realized that asbestos fibers are carcinogenic. The National Health Security Agency (ANSES) estimates that 10 to 20% of lung cancer and 85% of mesothelioma (malignant tumor of the pleura) are due to asbestos. In addition, inhaling these undetectable filaments in dust can cause serious respiratory problems. However, it is necessary to wait between twenty and forty years after the beginning of the exposure so that the diseases do not declare themselves.

If mortality is decreasing, we are still dying today because of exposure to this mineral. In 1996, authorities estimated that this material was responsible for around 2,000 annual deaths. In the early 2000s, there were around 1,000 deaths per year from mesothelioma. More broadly, a forecast study carried out in 2012 by the Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS) predicts between 18,000 and 25,000 deaths from mesothelioma by 2050 in France, against 50,000 to 75,000 deaths from bronchopulmonary cancer in connection with exposure. asbestos.

Mandatory prevention

In order to preserve the health of citizens, the legislator banned any use of asbestos in 1997. But buildings constructed before that date remain concerned. This is why the law requires the syndicates of co-owners of buildings erected before July 1, 1997 to have a certified professional verify the condition of materials and products that may contain asbestos. This diagnosis makes it possible to draw up an “asbestos technical file” (DTA) which must be kept up to date, communicated for all work in the building and made available to occupants on request.

For the same purpose, any owner of a home whose building permit was issued before July 1997 must have an asbestos report carried out in the context of a real estate sale or the rental of the property. Both apartments and single-family homes are concerned this time. This observation is part of the technical diagnostic file (DDT) annexed to the deed of sale or the lease. Finally, a decree of July 16, 2019 requires any ordering party to identify asbestos before any work involving risks of worker exposure, so that they can take appropriate protective measures.

Before 2013, the asbestos condition had to be renewed before the sale of a home. Since that date, this diagnosis has an unlimited period of validity. That said, the diagnostician who has noticed the presence of asbestos can recommend a new assessment within 3 years.

The right reflexes for work

  • S’informer : Check the asbestos diagnosis in your home. If in doubt, you can consult the Géoamiante Public mobile application free of charge, which assesses this risk in some 4 million buildings. Even if you carry out the work yourself, it is better to have an in-depth location established by a certified professional, when there is a proven danger.
  • To protect yourself : In general, it is recommended to wear a respiratory mask and to moisten the materials with which you work for any work that generates dust. Likewise, protect the furniture to limit toxic deposits. If there is a risk of asbestos, it is also better to wear a disposable coverall and gloves. Prefer here hand tools which produce less dust and regularly carry out a complete cleaning of the part and the equipment with a damp cloth. Waste must be placed in a waterproof bag with the mention asbestos, before being taken to the recycling center.



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