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New tool developed to tackle asbestos in pipes more safely

One of the most dangerous products in construction is also one of the most common in households and office buildings across the country. That product is asbestos and it is very possible that a person has come into contact with an asbestos-containing product at some point. However, asbestos is most dangerous when it becomes airborne and breathed in. When this happens, a person can develop serious lung illnesses and cancers that can be fatal.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to spot asbestos. This can be especially true when the products that contain asbestos are buried underground. Did you know that there are about 400,000 miles of pipes across North America that contain asbestos? These pipes transport water and waste throughout the country. Until recently, the process of removing and repairing these asbestos pipes proved to be quite problematic and dangerous. But hopefully a new product will make this much easier and safer. 

There are two issues to consider when it comes to these pipes. The first is that the water that is transported through these pipes can contain millions of asbestos fibers as a result of the pipes. However, that is not where the issue of safety comes into play, as reports indicate that ingesting water with asbestos is not as dangerous as inhaling the airborne fiber.

But repairing and replacing the pipes have been a cause for concern. To repair a leaky or degrading pipe, parts of it must be removed. Many methods involve sawing the pipes which can kick up large amounts of dust that contains asbestos, which can then be easily ingested by those nearby. 

Stanley Tools is working to tackle this issue and they have created a hydraulic chainsaw that can be used in the process of repairing and removing asbestos pipes. Instead of aggressively sawing the pipes, which can release dust, the hydraulic chainsaw uses a continuous stream of water to keep the fibers from being released into the air. Many methods of removing asbestos in other products involve wetting down the fibers. 

So far, reports suggest that the product has been very effective, though testing on the product will continue on for a few more months. If the product continues to function well and safely, it will hopefully be used by companies all across the country to prevent harmful exposure to asbestos. 

Source: Journal of Commerce, "Asbestos still a threat, but a new tool cuts the danger," Shannon Moneo, Sept. 16, 2013

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