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So I was doing some work in the garage a few months ago and dislodged about a lemon size chunk of what at the time I thought was just some old concrete which fell on me and left some dust on a sweatshirt I was wearing.

Fast forward a few months and it turns out it's most likely asbestos.

Main questions:

  1. Does washing remove/reduce asbestos? This sweatshirt has been washed multiple times since this happened.
  2. Is my washing machine and are any other clothes that were washed with the item above contaminated?

For question #1:

  • This link would appear to say yes.

  • However some other questions on this site seem to say no to #1 and yes to #2.

What is the correct answer?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The article that you linked to in your first bullet seems to be aimed at people who happen upon asbestos during day-to-day life by accident, one-off cases like in your experience. It is not meant to provide a guideline for people who work in the asbestos abatement industry.

The accepted answer linked to in your second bullet (and the question itself) is aimed towards people who are working with the removal of asbestos as a job. These people are in much more contact then a one-off small exposure such as your case. While the highlighted quote that was shared from the Australian government's guideline says that no clothing is to be washed in an worker's house (the employer should be taking care of this), the guideline also says:

Laundering of asbestos contaminated protective clothing is not recommended, because decontamination cannot be guaranteed. The otherwise reusable coveralls etc should instead be disposed of as asbestos waste.

Again, this is the case for someone who is working with asbestos daily, their clothing will be highly contaminated.

If I was you, I would not be worried about the sweater or the other clothing being contaminated.

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The harm of asbestos is inhaling it, so washing it will not only remove some/most each time but anything that is lodged in will likely not become airborne to be able to harm you. –  Jason Jun 26 '13 at 2:25

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