Dealing With Asbestos in Homes

Asbestos is a dangerous mineral fiber that could be present in your home. Before the 1970s, asbestos was a common product used in the construction of buildings. Inhalation of asbestos can result in serious and sometime fatal illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. However, in order to get these serious illnesses you must be exposed to very high levels of asbestos over an extended period of time. Many people are exposed to relatively small amounts of asbestos without even realizing it. Exposure in these situations typically does not result in illness, unless the asbestos material has been disturbed. When this occurs, asbestos could be inhaled by the lungs once the asbestos fiber has been disturbed and subsequently released into the atmosphere.   The mere presence of asbestos in your home is not enough for serious alarm. However asbestos materials that are damaged, crumble when handled, as well as asbestos materials that have been scraped, sawed or sanded into a powdery substance, create a higher health hazard than undisturbed asbestos materials. As long as the asbestos has not been damaged or disturbed it will probably be a good idea to leave the asbestos alone. Messing with the material could create an unnecessary health hazard.   Where Would Asbestos in Homes be found ?   Since the 1970s, asbestos-containing materials have not be used as often in insulation and other building materials. However, asbestos could be present in the following spots and scenarios, especially with older homes:

  • Siding and roofing shingles;
  • Insulation for buildings and building parts;
  • Stove-top pads and other older kitchen products;
  • Textured paint and patching compounds for wall and ceiling joints;
  • The floors and walls surrounding wood burning stove could be protected through the use of asbestos paper;
  • Artificial embers and ashes used in gas-fired fireplaces;
  • Vinyl floor tiles, including the adhesives and backings of such tiles;
  • Sound proofing and decorating materials;
  • Door gaskets and coal/oil furnaces; and
  • Steam and hot water pipes could be coated or covered with an asbestos material.

What Can I Do If I Believe Asbestos is in My Home?   The best thing to do when you think asbestos is present in your home is to leave the asbestos material alone, especially if it is in good working condition and has not been disturbed already. Disturbing the asbestos material could cause pieces to break off into the air, where these fibers could be inhaled by the lungs. On top of leaving the asbestos alone you should regularly review the area. While you should not touch the possible asbestos, it is a good idea to regularly sight-check the area/product for damage. If damaged the material could release fibers into the air. On top of not disturbing the asbestos, you may also want to quarantine the area, in order to make sure there is only limited access to the asbestos location. If you are concerned that the asbestos might present a real risk, it may be time to have a professional to come to test the area in order to determine if asbestos is actually present. If asbestos is discovered, the asbestos professional can either repair or remove the asbestos-containing material. It is a good rule of thumb to have an asbestos testing before any building remodeling. Renovations can disturb asbestos that you did not even know was present in your home, and may release these dangerous fibers into your atmosphere in large supply. Think you might have a suit for asbestos exposure? Contact an asbestos exposure attorney today.

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