What to Do If You Find Asbestos Your House
Asbestos is a homeowner’s nightmare. Unless you’ve come in close contact with asbestos yourself, you might have a lot of confusion about what exactly asbestos is and what to do if you find it in your home. While asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, it can sometimes be found in insulation in your home as well as in your floors, shingles, and siding.
While occasional, brief exposure to asbestos is relatively harmless, if exposed for a long period of time there are severe potential health risks. Lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis are all possible after prolonged exposure to asbestos. Keep reading this guide to learn what to do if you find asbestos in your own house.
What is Asbestos?
First, let’s take a closer look at what asbestos is exactly. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance. The fibers of asbestos are flexible, soft, and resistant to heat and chemical corrosion. Because it’s an effective natural insulator, asbestos was commonly used in paper, cloth, cement, and home insulation.
Why was asbestos used so frequently in construction and production? Frankly, it was cheap and durable. It was a great insulator but it also was resistant for fire. The use of asbestos peaked during World War II when builders were looking for cheap, practical materials. This became the ideal building material until the 1970s.
Finally, in the 1970s, scientific evidence demonstrated just how dangerous this mineral could be when the fibers are exposed to the air. In 1977, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of these compounds in patching product. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Environmental Protection Agency finally banned most asbestos products, though this was overturned soon after.
Today, the EPA bans asbestos in flooring felts and certain papers. Products can still be created with these fibers as long as they account for under 1% of the total product.
Asbestos In Your Home
It’s difficult to know whether a material has asbestos just by looking at it. This makes it hard for homeowners to identify any dangerous materials in their home that might be causing health problems. The best way to find asbestos in your home is to use a professional. An asbestos professional can take samples to confirm whether you have a dangerous amount of asbestos in your home and whether you need to take action.
The good news is that if you do discover you have asbestos in your home, there is no reason to be immediately alarmed. These materials become dangerous only when they’re damaged and release asbestos fibers into the air which can be breathed in. If you plan to leave these asbestos materials alone and they’re in good condition, they’re not likely to pose any health risk.
However, make sure to keep a close eye on these materials. If they’re worn, damaged, cut, or scraped, they’re likely to release dangerous fibers. Check them regularly for any signs of distress.
If you find damaged asbestos or are planning a remodeling project that will disturb current asbestos-containing materials, you need a professional. The repair process usually involves either sealing the material with a binding coating so the fibers cannot be released or covering the material with safe insulation. Removing the material will be a complex process that can only be handled by a trained professional who will reduce the home’s exposure.
Protect Your Home From Asbestos
The danger around asbestos is often misunderstood. While finding asbestos-containing materials in the home is not uncommon, it doesn’t mean you need to be immediately concerned. As long as the asbestos is in good condition and unlikely to be messed with, it’s safe to leave it untouched.
However, if you do need professional intervention, act quickly. You don’t want to risk the health of your family. The health problems associated with asbestos sometimes take years to appear, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not sure about the state of asbestos in your own home, contact a professional today who can take a closer look.