Do you know if there’s asbestos in your home?
There are many hidden dangers of asbestos in homes that you may not be aware of. It’s important to have a complete understanding of asbestos and the risks that come with it, so that you will know when to book a professional asbestos inspection and removal. Learn about the hidden dangers of asbestos, so you can take the proper steps to keep you and your family safe…
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was discovered to be fire retardant and both a good acoustic and thermal insulator. It was often used in homes in the 1940s through 1970s before its health risks were made public.
Asbestos was researched and discovered to be potentially harmful for decades before it stopped being used in homes, but it took a long time for that knowledge to reach the public. Now, it’s common knowledge that asbestos exposure is dangerous.
How Does Asbestos Harm You?
Asbestos fibers separate easily during handling, especially when they are damaged. They can become so small that you can’t see them, but you will inhale them.
Over time, that inhalation can have serious negative effects. Cigarette smokers are affected even more, since cigarette smoke is an irritant to the lungs, making the lungs work harder to combat asbestos fibers.
There are a few specific diseases that asbestos in homes can cause:
This is a type of cancer caused by asbestos, which affects the lining of your lungs. Symptoms can include fluid buildup around lungs, coughing, difficulty breathing, pain around the ribcage, and fatigue. It can take up to 20 years after asbestos exposure for this disease to appear, making this a high risk for those who lived in homes with asbestos in the past, as well as anyone who has worked with the mineral.
This is a lung condition that can cause shortness of breath and coughing. It can even permanently damage the lungs. Chest pain is one symptom, and another unexpected one is toenails and fingernails having a strangely round, wide shape. This disease is similar to mesothelioma in that it can take many years after regular exposure to asbestos to appear. The damage that can be caused by this disease is permanent, but there are ways to medically manage some of the symptoms. In some cases, a lung transplant may become necessary. People with this disease are also more likely to develop lung cancer.
Lung cancer can develop in people who have been exposed to asbestos, whether or not asbestosis occurs first. Lung cancer is more well-known than the other asbestos-related diseases since it is more often seen in smokers. However, exposure to asbestos puts people at higher risk of lung cancer, even if they aren’t cigarette smokers.
5 Hidden Sources of Asbestos in Homes
Asbestos fibers in the air can’t be seen, even as you breathe them in, so it’s a very hidden risk. There are many places in your home that you may not expect to find asbestos. However, because asbestos was used for such a long time and was found to have so many different uses, there are all kinds of places where asbestos can hide:
1. Duct System
Asbestos was discovered to be a good insulator, so it was often used to insulate duct systems in older homes. If your home has stiff metal ducts with white tape on them, there is a good chance that the tape contains asbestos. The dangerous mineral can also be found in duct insulation materials.
2. Vinyl Materials
Vinyl sheet flooring can often have asbestos hidden in it. If it was made before 1980, asbestos was likely added to make the flooring more durable. Both vinyl and asbestos were inexpensive materials. They are often seen together since asbestos had the added benefits of strength and flame retardation. In addition to sheet flooring, there can be asbestos in vinyl wallpaper and floor tiles.
3. Roofing and Siding
Asbestos was also a popular material in roofing for the same reasons; strength, insulation, fireproofing, and durability. Many different kinds of roofing may have asbestos in them. Asphalt and cement shingles, asphalt roofing felt, as well as sealants and roof underlayment may all contain hidden asbestos sources. Siding is also a popular place for asbestos in homes to hide. Different kinds of siding and adhesives may contain asbestos.
4. Artificial Ashes and Embers
Some gas fireplaces may contain asbestos in the artificial ashes or embers, as well as artificial fireplace logs. When heated, the asbestos-containing ashes would glow like real ashes and embers, but also release asbestos fibers into the air. Although the manufacture of these products is of course now banned, fireplaces that were made before the ban are still sources of risk.
5. Walls and Ceilings
Texturing materials for walls and ceilings is a common source of asbestos exposure at home. Sometimes the asbestos is in the paint, but more often the asbestos material may have been painted over for safety reasons. However, when sanded or otherwise disturbed, painted-over asbestos can be released into the air again. It’s important to test the material of walls and ceilings underneath paint to see if asbestos is there.
Protecting Your Home From Asbestos
Never touch or try to remove asbestos-containing materials yourself. Instead, you’ll want to hire asbestos removal professionals to keep yourself and your home safe. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is disturbed or damaged. Disruption is what releases the asbestos into the home. It is possible to have an asbestos source undisturbed in your home for a long time, only to release the hazards during remodels or construction.
When you get a professional asbestos inspection, you can have potentially hazardous materials in your home examined and tested to see if asbestos is there. If it is, asbestos professionals can then remove them from your home safely.
The risks of asbestos in homes are well-documented. Don’t put your safety at risk by living with asbestos, or worse, trying to remove it yourself. Instead, hire a professional today to find and remove any hidden dangers of asbestos in your home.