Many houses that were built before the 1980s contain asbestos. If asbestos is damaged or disturbed and fibers are released into the air, people can inhale them and eventually develop mesothelioma, a form of cancer, or other medical conditions.
How Your Family May Be Exposed to Asbestos
Asbestos fibers have been used in construction materials, such as flooring and ceiling tiles, insulation, pipes, paint, shingles and cement. Many applications were banned in the 1970s, but it is still legal to use asbestos in some building materials.
Sawing, scraping, drilling and sanding materials that contain asbestos can release dangerous fibers into the air. If you attempt renovations yourself, you may disturb asbestos.
Hire an Experienced Contractor If You’re Concerned About Possible Asbestos
Before you decide to knock down walls or replace insulation, think about the age of your home and whether it may contain asbestos. Only certified professionals should perform repairs or renovations in or near areas with asbestos. If there’s a chance that asbestos may be present, your best bet is to hire professionals for home repairs, even minor ones.
What to Do If You Suspect That Your House Has Asbestos
If you have reason to believe that a building material in your house contains asbestos, don’t touch it or allow anyone in the area. If the material is damaged, or if it could be disturbed and become damaged, contact an asbestos professional. Don’t sweep or vacuum up any material that may contain asbestos or throw it away with other household waste.
It’s often impossible to tell if a building material contains asbestos without having samples tested in a laboratory. A professional should collect samples for testing. If you don’t know how to do it correctly, you may damage an intact material, release asbestos fibers into the air and create a problem where none had existed before. If the material is already damaged, you may make the problem worse.
If asbestos is found and can be concealed, that may be the best way to deal with it. Removing it could create a much bigger problem. Asbestos should only be removed if there is no alternative and it should only be done by professionals.
Do Your Due Diligence
If you’re shopping for a new home, asbestos may not be something you have thought about, but you should. Before you buy a house, have it inspected. Make sure that you know the age of the home and ask your real estate agent if asbestos has ever been found in the house and, if so, what was done about it.
Discuss Concerns About Asbestos Exposure With Your Doctor
If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor. Imaging tests may detect signs of asbestos-related illnesses, but those conditions often don’t show up until long after exposure. Your physician may want to monitor your health or refer you to a specialist.