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The Importance of Checking for Asbestos at Home

man renovating a house

One of the harmful substances that can hide in your home is called asbestos. Contact with this mineral should be avoided at all costs. You absolutely must protect yourself against permanent exposure. If your home was built while asbestos was still legal, there’s a good chance that this substance is present in your house. With the right preparation and prevention, you can avoid coming into contact with it and end up with a potentially fatal disease, like mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer.

What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a blanket term used to describe six naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Each mineral has the potential to be dangerous, and each is called asbestos. These fibrous minerals, asbestos, are incredibly dangerous if inhaled or swallowed. Accidentally breathing in asbestos can lead to lung diseases, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of the lung’s lining), or asbestosis (scarring of the lung tissue).

How was Asbestos Used?
Asbestos was used in a number of building and construction materials. Its use dates back to the late 1800s and it wasn’t discontinued in the United States until the late 1980s. Although not completely banned, asbestos isn’t used in residential home building or school construction. Despite its ban, many homes were built before the ban and former owners neglected to have the materials removed.

What to Do if You Come into Contact with Asbestos
If you were only momentarily exposed to asbestos, it’s highly unlikely that a disease will result from the exposure. Extended exposure increases your risk of developing diseases, in which case you should immediately tell your doctor. In fact, it’s a good idea to tell your doctor about even momentary asbestos exposure just in case.

If it’s determined you have mesothelioma or another asbestos caused lung disease, you may want to get in contact with an asbestos attorney. Choose an attorney familiar with asbestos because only they will understand the various historical uses of asbestos, and thus be able to determine if you have a case or not. Asbestos cancers are particularly painful and life-threatening, and if someone else is at fault they need to be held accountable to you and your family.

Removing Asbestos from the Home
“The mere presence of asbestos in a home or a building is not hazardous,” writes the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “The danger is that asbestos materials may become damaged over time. Damaged asbestos may release asbestos fibers and become a health hazard.”

If you’re planning a deep renovation and you suspect asbestos is in the home, contact an asbestos removal expert to handle the safe removal of the materials. If asbestos is already damaged, get out of the house and ask a professional to remove it. The last thing you need is yourself or your children ingesting or inhaling the dangerous material. Keep in mind, it’s actually quite difficult to identify asbestos, which is why you may want to have the home inspected before beginning a renovation project.

Here’s where asbestos is typically found in the home:
• Steam pipes
• Boilers
• Furnace ducts
• Some floor tiles
• Soundproofing and other insulating/decorating materials
+ Many other places as described in this video.

These are some of the more common objects that could potentially be harboring the dangerous fibers. If you’re certain asbestos is present, try to keep children and adults out of that room. Contact a professional remover, and wait to reenter the space until it’s totally gone.

Remember: Only certified asbestos removers are trained to completely remove and safely dispose of the hazardous material. They have the tools and connections to do the job properly. If you hire just anyone to remove the material and that person gets sick, you may be liable for their health bills and other liabilities. So, always ensure the professionals you hire are fully capable of removing the fibers the right way.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Judy Wilson June 1, 2016, 11:33 pm

    I was surprised to read about the different areas in my home where asbestos can be found. I’ve always thought that it’s only used to insulate my walls, so it seems that I should know that it’s also used for steam pipes, boilers, furnace ducts, and floor tiles. I want to renovate my home, but now I’m worried that my sixty year old flooring might contain asbestos. It would be a good idea to call a professional to take a look at these areas in my house in case there’s any asbestos hiding in any spaces that I might not have thought to check. Thanks for the information!

  • Lillian Schaeffer August 4, 2016, 6:40 pm

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that asbestos is only dangerous if damaged. My husband and I are planning on doing some major renovations in our home, and we’ll be ripping out tile and even tearing down one wall. It’s an older house, so we’ll definitely make sure to have a professional come and inspect for asbestos and remove it if there is any. Thanks for the great post!

  • Charles Kemp August 31, 2016, 12:34 am

    I think it is really nice to have an asbestos free home. It can really make a difference and it makes it so that you don’t have to worry about getting sick. We know how dangerous it can be to have that in our homes.

  • Rockford Johnson October 12, 2016, 4:17 pm

    I learned a lot about the importance of checking for asbestos by reading this article. It was cool to learn that only professionals can ensure that asbestos are removed safely and properly. I hope that I can remember this article when I have a house of my own in the future.

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