02 February 2014

Asbestos Awareness To Save Lives

Home Renovations and Asbestos: What You Should Know

While remodeling, renovating, or improving your home’s energy efficiency, you should always

take steps to reduce and eliminate pollution as much as possible and protect yourself from

dangerous fumes, materials, and chemicals in the air. Removing asbestos from your home,

however, requires the services of a state-certified professional who is trained to detect, abate,

and remove it. If you live in an older home built prior to the 1980s, before you begin any home

renovation projects, be certain to get your home thoroughly checked for asbestos.

Asbestos Use in Residential Homes

Although products made from asbestos have been phased out since the 1980s, many older

homes in the United States may still contain insulation, vinyl flooring, siding, roofing materials,

appliances, certain types of plaster, and cement which contain asbestos. For many years,

asbestos was used to insulate buildings from temperature and sound. Asbestos was also a

cheap and effective material that could resist fire, chemical reactions, and electrical discharges.

Many home appliances, including water heaters and furnaces, contained asbestos.

Even though asbestos was a reliable way to prevent fires and protect homes, it also has been

linked to harmful diseases, including asbestosis, and the terminal disease, mesothelioma. When

asbestos fibers become airborne, they are easily swallowed. Since these are fibers are so thin

and light, inhalation goes undetected. Once asbestos fibers are ingested, while some may

dispel naturally, it’s impossible to remove them all. Asbestos fibers create havoc on the body’s

organs over time, leading to arrays of health issues.

Detecting Asbestos in Your Home

If you’re unsure if your home has asbestos, it’s nearly impossible to determine by looking for it.

Some products may be labeled as containing asbestos, but most other products are not labeled.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a professional asbestos technician in order to determine how

much asbestos you have and where its located. The only exception is vermiculite insulation

that contains asbestos. Vermiculite asbestos insulation is grayish brown with a grainy, wormlike

texture. However, although you can identify if your home contains vermiculite insulation, you’ll

still need a professional to thoroughly inspect your insulation for asbestos.

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Precautions to Take

Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), treat your older home as if it contains

asbestos at all times if you are unsure. Until you can get confirmation:

● Don’t do any activities at all around areas that may contain asbestos. As mentioned

earlier, this could be appliances such as furnaces and old stoves, siding, shingles, vinyl

flooring, walls, and attics. Children in particular should never be allowed to play near any

area that may contain asbestos.

● Don’t sweep or clean up in areas you think may contain asbestos.

● Don’t load anything into your attic and keep all traffic into the attic as minimal as

possible.

● Never start any home repairs or renovations, regardless of how minor the task may be.

Unfortunately, millions of people are currently dealing with severe disabilities and health

problems after being exposed to asbestos for prolonged periods of time. Construction workers

who built homes prior to the 1980s were constantly working around asbestos-containing

materials without proper protection. In fact, asbestos attorneys have filed many lawsuits against

asbestos manufacturers after these workers developed illnesses that could have otherwise

been prevented with proper warning. Keep in mind, though, there is no reason to fear your

home or move away. Asbestos is usually not harmful unless its disturbed. So while you want to

be cautious until you can get your home inspected, there is no need for panic.

For More Information

For information on how to locate a state-certified asbestos professional, contact your local

health department, and for more detailed information on the effects of asbestos, contact the

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) at 800-CDC-INFO.
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