What is Asbestos?
What is Asbestos? It’s a strong, fire-resistant mineral fiber. In the past, asbestos was used as insulation against heat or noise and for fire protection. It was also added to materials such as cement and plaster to give them more structural strength.
Where was Asbestos used in older homes?
Until the early 1980s, many products containing asbestos were used in house construction. Some products, such as asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation, were used in homes right up until the late 1980s. The drawing below shows many possible sources of asbestos in older homes.
When you are renovating or demolishing an older house, there is a high probability of encountering asbestos containing materials. If asbestos-containing materials are in good condition and left intact, they do not pose a significant danger of releasing asbestos fibers into the air you breathe. However, these materials are hazardous when they deteriorate or are disturbed, such as when they are handled, sanded, drilled into, or broken up so that they crumble. To avoid disturbing asbestos-containing materials, you must know where they are before you begin renovations.
What are the hazards of Asbestos?
Renovating or demolishing houses containing asbestos products can release asbestos fibers, which are extremely fine and can stay in the air for hours. Breathing in asbestos fibers may cause serious health problems, including lung disease and cancer. Asbestosis is the name given to scarring and stiffening of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust over many years. It makes breathing difficult and may lead to fatal diseases such as pneumonia and heart disease. Exposure to asbestos can also cause lung cancer. Asbestos-related diseases usually develop many years after a person has been exposed to asbestos. The risk of developing these diseases increases with the amount of asbestos in the air you inhale and the length of time you are exposed. Smokers are at an increased risk.
What can Homeowners do?
If you are a homeowner doing your own renovations and/or employing other workers, you will want to take precautions to avoid inhaling asbestos fibers and contaminating your home. Asbestos-containing materials should be identified and removed by someone trained in asbestos removal and wearing protective clothing and a respirator. Employers and owners/builders are responsible for the health and safety of any workers employed on the site. They must have a qualified person inspect the site to identify any asbestos that may be handled, disturbed, or removed.
We recommend any buyer of an older home (built before the 1990s) do a pre-buyer asbestos inspection. Call us today if you would like your home tested for Asbestos!
For more information visit our ASBESTOS PAGE.