Asbestos In Your Pool Or Spa

Asbestos In Your Pool Or Spa

Before the 1980s, asbestos was a popular construction material in the US. Many products were made with asbestos due to the mineral's isolating and strengthening properties. Every industry branch rushed to make the most of the new "miracle material," but the construction abounded with a large variety of asbestos-containing goods.

Consequently, the building process of any residential or commercial property from that period most likely involved asbestos, a toxic mineral favored for its versatility and accessible price range. It is why many homes built back then still contain this dangerous material in locations such as:

  • roofing
  • ceilings
  • internal walls
  • eaves
  • fencing
  • flue and water pipes
  • fireplaces
  • tiles
  • flooring underlay

Asbestos is a health risk factor when its microscopic fibers become airborne. When inhaled or ingested, it may cause severe diseases that develop decades after exposure. However, asbestos that isn't airborne is not necessarily dangerous. The material represents no danger when encased in products; it represents a risk only upon disturbing through drilling, cutting, sawing, or breaking. Wear and tear can also release tiny asbestos fibers, so for safety reasons, if there's no information available on whether a product contains asbestos or not, it should be treated with caution.

The pool is the last place one would think to check for asbestos. Some in-ground pools built as early as the 70s were most likely made with asbestos materials, as basins of those times were usually constructed with plaster containing asbestos, which was cheap and durable. It is a concern for older pool owners, as it has probably begun to break down from wear and tear, making asbestos exposure a real possibility. It should be noted that as long as the pool is filled with water, there are no dangers to health. During regular pump schedules, most loose asbestos fibers will be trapped in the filter. But if you're renovating, repairing, or redecorating an older pool, it's essential to understand the potential hazards associated with asbestos. When the pool is drained, and repairs are made using power tools that generate dust, there's a significant concern for inhaling or ingesting the dangerous fibers and developing severe malignant diseases decades later.

Testing, Resurfacing, and Removal

The most reliable way to test the plaster in your pool or spa area is through a certified asbestos testing company. They will test site samples and send them to a specialized lab for dependable results. If the results come back positive for asbestos, you'll need to handle asbestos with the help of a professional or by using our DIY asbestos removal guide.

One of the ways to manage asbestos in pools and spas is through resurfacing - it's accomplished by removing damaged plaster and covering the area with a new finish. Professionals should handle this asbestos abatement, as they have the knowledge and protective equipment to address such issues. Asbestos fibers can quickly spread throughout the area and contaminate your clothing and home, generating unnecessary health hazards for your family.

Complete pool demolition is the easiest method to remove all the asbestos from your pool or spa. Asbestos removal professionals have special licenses to handle the demolition process and are equipped to effectively prevent asbestos contamination in other areas of the neighborhood. Older pool owners should consider that even if the pool is unused, damaged asbestos-containing materials can release the toxic fibers into the air, entering the house on clothing or other means, especially if the pool's surface is peeling.

A popular decorative coating applied to concrete pool shells of those times was white plaster, primarily composed of white cement and most likely asbestos fibers to enhance durability. If the plaster coating is in good condition, then the risk of asbestos exposure is considered minimal because the asbestos fibers are bound to the cement and remain there if they're undisturbed. However, surface deterioration and leaks happen inevitably with aging. Complete removal of the plaster coating is mainly necessary if there's extensive deterioration or cracks. Additionally, rust repairs to the pool shell also require surface removal. So if drilling and hammering are needed to remove or repair the pool coating, there will be large-scale disturbance, which is preferable to be done by an asbestos removal professional for obvious safety reasons.

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.