Is there Asbestos In The Garden?

Is there Asbestos In The Garden?

As unlikely as it seems, asbestos could lurk in your garden, and it's not uncommon. The well-known toxic material was widely used in construction decades ago, so its hazardous presence is likely around your house.

If your home was built before the late 1980s, or you own a newer home built on an old site, asbestos could contaminate the soil. Additionally, there's a good chance that old outbuildings and sheds may have been constructed with asbestos. Asbestos could still be present even if older buildings had been removed years ago. The hazardous mineral was most commonly used both in older homes and outbuildings as a component of products such as:

  • roofings
  • walls
  • pipe insulation

However, asbestos fibers were also mixed in with cement, another potential source of contamination. Likewise, if old carpet underlay or carpeting has been discarded on your property, it's another potential source of toxic contamination. Back then, it wasn't uncommon for some carpet underlay manufactured and installed before the 1970s to be made from bags that had previously transported raw asbestos.

Where Asbestos May Be Hiding In Your Garden

The mineral can be found in the garden soil mainly due to potting mixes that contain it. Given that asbestos represents a danger when its microscopic fibers become airborne, working in the garden with asbestos-contaminated soil was, for many, an unavoidable source of exposure.

Gardeners of past times used Vermiculite in combination with the soil and made the mixture themselves. It made for faster germination when starting seeds. Sometimes, asbestos was used alone instead of mixes, as it greatly aided anchoring tender plant root systems and helped young plants absorb critical nutrients better. Moreover, before the 1980s, various garden products were manufactured with asbestos to increase their durability, including:

  • fences
  • garden beds
  • flower pots
  • potting mixes

Removing or remodeling old outdoor structures without taking safety measures contaminates the ground and is a health risk for everyone around. Asbestos typically needs testing to be confirmed, as it's hard to identify it visually, so if you think you have asbestos products in your yard or the ground, it's crucial not to disturb them.

Common construction products such as cement and panels produced with asbestos were also used in garden features and fences due to their accessibility. Such fencing was partially buried in the ground, increasing the possibility of asbestos contamination. Even if asbestos wasn't initially present in your yard, asbestos removal projects on your home could have contaminated the area. Calling a professional to inspect the premises is advisable if that's the case.

Asbestos products are no danger if they're intact and undisturbed

While it may seem that asbestos is more likely to represent a hazard inside a home in the form of insulation, the chances of inhaling or ingesting its toxic fibers may also arise while working in the garden. It's crucial not to attempt to remove the mineral yourself, as you could stir up dust and inhale asbestos fibers without realizing it.

If you suspect your old cement garden fixtures may contain asbestos, keep out of the area. If you wish to make the premises safer, wear protective equipment such as:

  • P2 respirator mask
  • eye goggles
  • shoe covers
  • disposable clothing cover

Using a hose to lightly spray the affected item with water would be best. However, before you water, make sure the water pressure is low to prevent disturbing the material. If you're sure you're dealing with asbestos, place a tarp over the object and call for professional help to assess and remove it if necessary.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.