Learn more about Asbestos by reading some of our Asbestos FAQs.
What exacty is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a type of mineral fiber. Various types of asbestos fibers exist. In the past, these fibers were added to a variety of products to strengthen them, provide heat insulation, and/or fire resistance. Inhaled asbestos fibers can be detrimental to a person’s health.
Where Does Asbestos Reside?
A lot of products made today do not contain asbestos. Products that do are required to have a proper label. However, during the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in construction contained asbestos.
Typical products from the past that may contain asbestos:
- Floor Tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on Vinyl Sheet Flooring, and Adhesive used for installing floor tile.
- Sound Proofing or Decorative Material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Patching AND Joint Compounds for walls and ceilings, and Textures Paints.
- Asbestos Cement Roofing, Shingles, and Sidings.
- Artificial Ashes and Embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Also, other older household products such as Fire-Proof Gloves, Stove-Top Pads, Ironing Board Covers, and certain Hairdryers.
- Automobile Brake Pads and Linings, Clutch Facings, and Gaskets.
- Steam Pipes, Boiliers, and Furnace Ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape.
- Cement Sheet, Millboard, and Paper used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves.
- Door Gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves.
Depending on how you interact with these products, they may release dangerous asbestos fibers. If you have any questions or concerns – Please do not hesitate to reach out to us on our contact page.
How is Asbestos dangerous ?
Asbestos can cause Asbestosis. This is a respiratory disease. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling. In its advanced stages, the disease may cause cardiac failure.
Studies have shown asbestos can lead to an increased risk of:
Lung Cancer Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity Asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue. Risk increases with the great number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you are a smoker.
I Think I Have Asbestos in My Home, What Should I Do?
Don’t freak out if you think asbestos is in your home. Usually, the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. However, Do not touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage – especially when it comes to water. If the you think the problem may be serious or you feel the material with asbestos is not in good condition, seek asbestos removal.
Professional Asbestos Removal is the absolute best way to handle this hazardous material. Keep in mind also that before a house gets remodeled, ensure that asbestos fibers are not present.
How Can I Tell If Asbestos Is Present In My Home?
The one way to know for sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. The EPA recommends testing suspect materials only if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Otherwise, it is best to leave asbestos undisturbed. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector).
What Asbestos Hazards Are Found In The Home?
- Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
- Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
- Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.
- Roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
- Houses built in the early to mid-1900’s may have asbestos as insulation.
- Attic and wall insulation produced using vermiculite ore (See EPA’s 2003 brochure on Current Best Practices for Vermiculite Attic Insulation)
- Prior to 1977, Asbestos has been present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints.
- Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
- Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
- Walls and floors around woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
Asbestos Homeowner Guide: Do‘s & Don’ts
- Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
- Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
- Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
- Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
- Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
- Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
- Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.