Many people worry about asbestos -especially when purchasing a new home. But what do you really know about asbestos? The mere presence of asbestos is not usually a problem. Over time, however, asbestos may become damaged. When it does, it can release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air you breathe. The removal of asbestos, if not done correctly, can also pose a health threat. Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions.
Q. What is asbestos?
A. Asbestos is a very strong mineral fiber that was once added to many different products to strengthen them. It was also used to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. There are several types of asbestos fibers.
Q. Where is asbestos found?
A. Asbestos can be found in roofing materials, siding shingles, insulation (homes built between 1930 – 1950), textured paint (pre-1977), patching compounds (pre-1977), walls and floors around wood-burning stoves, vinyl floor tiles and adhesives, insulation for hot water and steam pipes in older homes, and oil and coal furnaces.
Q. How Can Asbestos affect my health?
A. Exposure to asbestos, especially airborne asbestos fibers, increases your risk of developing lung disease. Disease symptoms may take several years to develop following exposure. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.
Q. I suspect there is asbestos in my home. What should I do?
A. First and foremost, do not disturb the asbestos. It is generally not harmful until it is disturbed and fibers are released into the air. Next, have a professional testing company come in to test for asbestos. It may be that the asbestos in your home is in good shape and does not need removal. If not, they can provide an asbestos remediation plan for you so that you and your family are safe.
Q. I am planning on renovating my home and I know there is asbestos there. Are there any precautions I can take?
A. Once you have tested for asbestos and confirmed that it will be a problem, have any removal and repairs done by certified professionals who are specially trained in handling asbestos.
Q. We are going to be doing demolition on our home and know we only have asbestos in one place that won’t be touched asbestos. Is it safe to go ahead with the demolition without having the house tested for asbestos?
A. A demolition could expose an asbestos problem you weren’t aware of. Also, look for signs of wear and tear in areas you know contain asbestos. But whatever you do, don’t touch it. Consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne.
Asbestos can be very dangerous, but is easily managed. Take the necessary steps to make sure you and your family is not harmed by asbestos.