You finally found your dream home. Maybe it’s a charming rambler built in the 1950’s or an American Craftsman constructed in the early 1900’s. Even if several updates have been made to the home to accommodate your modern day needs, your home may have a hidden danger: asbestos. Before you back out of an offer or put your house on the market, learn a bit more about asbestos and weigh out some of your options before making the next step.
Asbestos in the Home
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) best describes asbestos as a mineral fiber found in rock and soil. Due to its fiber strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in various household materials, particularly in homes built between the 1940’s and 1970’s, such as insulation, vinyl floor tiles, and ceiling tiles. While such materials have proven to protect the home from fire and prevent heat loss in cold months, they can be dangerous once they start to deteriorate. While asbestos itself is not harmful in its natural state, as soon as it is manipulated or broken down, the small particles can cause harm to your health. If materials containing asbestos is in good condition, it is most likely safe (and should be undisturbed), but should be closely monitored for any changes.
The Threat of Asbestos
Since so many homes and buildings were constructed with materials containing asbestos, it’s likely that a majority of Americans lived in or came in contact with asbestos. Perhaps one of the biggest threats of asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. This aggressive type of cancer attacks the lining of the lungs and/or abdomen and occurs from ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers. The fibers remain in the body as the our bodies are unable to break down or get rid of them. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a cancer that is not detected until it’s often too late to receive effective treatment.
Mesothelioma affects Navy personnel, workers of various trades, and family members who may come in contact with tainted clothing or other materials brought into the home. “The disease does not appear for at least 15 years after exposure to asbestos,” says Belluck & Fox Law Firm, “ unfortunately, the risk of mesothelioma remains a very real danger.”
It’s almost impossible to determine whether or not your home has asbestos containing materials simply by looking throughout your house. In order to determine whether or not you have asbestos in your home you need to have materials sampled and analyzed. Never attempt to take samples on your own, as it should be performed by a trained professional with proper protective gear. If you suspect that there may be asbestos in your home, do not handle the suspicious materials as you could cause further damage to them (which can release more harmful fibers into the air). If you come in contact with damaged material that may contain asbestos such as ironing board covers or some other non-building material, contact your local health or environmental officials to find out proper disposal protocol.