Have you found asbestos in your home? Or do you wish to buy a house built before the 1970s? These were the years when it became clear that asbestos may cause cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The ’80s were marked by hysteria over this issue. Today, millions of people suffer from asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. This material can be found just about everywhere, from schools and churches to hospitals and residential buildings.
Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos was banned in most countries over the past decades. Yet, there’s plenty more still in place. In the past, this material was heavily used in the construction and manufacturing industries. It was cheap, durable, and convenient. Thousands of products contain asbestos, including plastics, gaskets, auto parts, ductwork connectors, adhesives, insulation materials, and textiles. Ceiling, flooring, and roofing tiles were made with asbestos too.
If you live in an older building, you might be exposed to asbestos every day. However, there is no danger unless the asbestos fibers become disturbed or damaged. This can happen during demolition, repairs, or renovation projects. These fibers can stay in your home for years without posing a health risk. Thus, it’s important to decide whether you should explore the option to remove asbestos or leave it alone.
When asbestos fibers become disturbed, they can be easily inhaled or ingested. This explains why so many construction workers suffer from asbestos related diseases. Over time, these tiny fibers build up in your lungs and other internal organs, causing mesothelioma cancer and respiratory problems. The first symptoms show up 15 to 60 years later when it’s too late for treatment.
Research shows that asbestos removal may be counterproductive. If you’re not planning to renovate your home or do major repairs, it may be safer to leave asbestos alone. This material is usually found in roof shingles, cement, paint, soundproofing tiles and other construction materials. Even vermiculite may contain asbestos. Most homes built after the 80s are free of asbestos materials. If you’re not sure whether your home asbestos, assume that it does and take adequate precautions
Asbestos: Play It Safe
Homeowners who live in buildings containing asbestos should seek professional help. An expert can take samples and let you know whether or not you should remove asbestos from your house. Non-friable asbestos-containing materials are usually safe. On the other hand, those containing friable asbestos pose major health risks and should be covered or sealed immediately. Friable asbestos can be found inside fireplaces, in old stoves and domestic heaters, within fire doors, and in sheet vinyl floor coverings.
If you decide to remove asbestos from your home, you have two options: covering and sealing. Whatever method you choose, hire an expert. Although it’s possible to remove asbestos yourself, it’s safer to have a professional handle this job. Decide how you will dispose of the asbestos waste, take samples from the affected area, and try sealing asbestos containing products rather than removing them. If you want to do this yourself, get proper equipment and tools.