A Brief History of Asbestos
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that is chemical and fire resistant. Because of its durability, asbestos was thought to be protective and safe to use in homes as insulation, flooring, and other construction materials.
Unfortunately, after reaching its height of popularity in the 1970s, it was discovered that long term exposure to asbestos causes a variety of serious health issues. One of the worst of these is malignant pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer.
When it comes to the health of you and your family, there’s no room to take chances with asbestos. Since asbestos in construction materials cannot be detected by sight or smell, professional asbestos testing is necessary if you notice any of these six signs:
1. Your Home Was Built Before 1986
Asbestos was commonly used in construction between the 1920s and early 1980s. If your home was built before the ban of asbestos in 1986, chances are, it contains the harmful substance. Items such as paint, insulation, ceiling tiles, roofing, flooring, and drywall all need to be inspected and put through asbestos testing.
2. You Have Plans for Construction or Renovation
The real danger of asbestos comes from the loose fibers and dust. Resting asbestos poses no known harm. When it is disturbed, however, particles become airborne and can be inhaled or ingested. This is when the particles pose a serious danger.
Just like cigarette smoke, the fibers don’t just affect those directly exposed. They can also be transmitted second hand by traveling on a person’s hair, skin, or clothing.
Never take on a construction, renovation, or demolition project without asbestos testing. Damaged asbestos containing materials are the most dangerous.
3. You Have Sprayed on Textured Ceiling
If you have “popcorn” ceiling or other sprayed on textured ceiling materials, these could contain asbestos. If you notice damage to this type of ceiling, especially if you’re not sure how long ago it was applied, you should definitely call in a professional to test for asbestos.
If the ceiling was applied within the last two decades, you’re likely in the clear. If you know it was put in before that or if you’re not sure, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. In the meantime, limit access to the area and do not disturb the ceiling further.
4. You Notice Disintegrating Pipes or Duct Sealants
A recently renovated home may be in the clear for asbestos in the flooring, ceiling, and wall insulation, but what about the “skeleton” features of the home, such as the piping in the basement? If you notice suspicious looking piping with disintegrated materials, it could be a warning sign for asbestos.
Asbestos repair could have been performed in the past, rather than removal. Asbestos repair involves sealing or covering the area to prevent exposure to airborne fibers. In many cases, this is actually the safer option because it minimizes the chance of the asbestos being disturbed. However, if you notice decay of sealant or insulation around pipes, it’s a red flag worthy of asbestos testing.
5. You Experience Symptoms of Asbestosis or Mesothelioma
Asbestosis is a type of lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. The fibers cause scarring in the lungs, which restricts breathing and limits the amount of oxygen that can reach your bloodstream.
Mesothelioma, as we mentioned above, is a type of cancer. Pleural mesothelioma is lung cancer caused by asbestos fibers embedding themselves in the lining of the lungs. Peritoneal Mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers embed themselves in the stomach or digestive system, possibly through ingestion. Pericardial Mesothelioma is an asbestos related cancer that affects the lining surrounding the heart. It is unknown how this type of mesothelioma occurs, as it is extremely rare and difficult to detect.
These diseases take years to develop, so this is only applicable for home asbestos testing if you have lived in the home for a decade or more. Exposure could have, of course, happened at work, another person’s home, or some other asbestos-containing location.
Common symptoms of asbestosis are:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Incessant cough
- Deformed nail growth
Common symptoms of mesothelioma are:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Body aches
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention to rule out an exposure to asbestos as the cause.
6. You Have a Gas Fireplace with Fake Ashes
Because of its extreme resistance to heat, fire, and chemicals, asbestos was commonly used to create fake ashes or embers for artificial fireplaces. If you have an older gas fireplace, furnace, or stove, you should definitely get it checked for asbestos. Even old fashioned ironing board covers used asbestos to prevent them from catching fire.
New manufacturers of these items know not to use asbestos. If you are suspicious of the age of any of these types of materials in your home, however, it’s time for asbestos testing.
How to Find an Asbestos Testing Professional
Customer reviews and recommendations can help lead you to a quality asbestos inspector and removal service. If you’re in Southern Maryland and surrounding areas, look no further than Duraclean Restoration Services. Our expertise in the field of bio hazard clean-up proves that we will be able to solve your problem safely and by the book.
Now You Know!
Asbestos is a very scary subject for many of us, but with this knowledge of the warning signs, you can rest a little easier. Remember that asbestos may be safe to live with, as long as it is left undisturbed. If you have any suspicions of asbestos, it’s best to have it tested by a professional so you can be sure. Disturbing it on your own could create a dangerous situation.
While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to get a lead paint inspection, too. Read this article to find out if your home may have lead paint.