Did you know that asbestos can still be used in the United States of America? One of the most common places to find asbestos products is in homes. Most people can easily see broken windows, cracks, holes, mold and other common issues with a home, but not many homeowners know that they may be at risk to asbestos exposure. People who own older homes should be diligent in making sure that their home is clean of asbestos. Even though asbestos is not outlawed in the USA, it is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), but this does not mean that all homes are free of asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that causes an aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. It also can cause lung cancer and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers get into the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart to cause certain types of mesothelioma. The asbestos caused disease, mesothelioma, is difficult to treat and survival rates are low, so it is important that you know if your home may contain asbestos products.
When performing home repairs be sure that the item you are working on does not contain asbestos. The microscopic fibers of asbestos can get into the air and inhaled when you are sanding, tearing down and renovating your home. If you are unsure, contact your regional EPA office, your local health department, and the Better Business Bureau, for a list of professionals in your area that know how to identify asbestos. To be safe, leave it alone until you know for sure that it does not have asbestos.
If you have a home built later than 1980 then your house may have a higher incidence of containing asbestos products. Here are ten of the common things to look for in an older building or home:
- Pipe Wraps – Asbestos was commonly used for insulating water pipes. If you find a pipe wrapped in insulation and it is torn or frayed be extra careful because any disturbance can force asbestos fibers into the air and they can be inhaled.
- Boiler Insulation – Prior to 1970 a majority of boilers and even water heaters were insulated with asbestos containing products because of their heat resistance properties. If they are torn or frayed be careful because this could force microscopic asbestos fibers into the air.
- Floor Tiles – Older tiles can contain asbestos. When they start to break a part, this is when it gets especially dangerous because fibers can enter the air to be inhaled.
- Tile Adhesive – Asbestos was commonly used in adhesive for older tiles. When they begin to age and come a part the adhesive can dust up and enter into the air.
- Talcum Powder – Although companies like Johnson & Johnson worked for years to keep this information secret, a string a scientific studies has shown talcum powder to contain asbestos. This information has proven vital in a recent string of lawsuits brought by women suffering from ovarian cancer after years of talcum powder use.
- Stove Pads – Old stoves contain stove pads which helped protect pots and pans. Made of asbestos cloth, as they aged they tend to break down and release fibers into the air.
- Stove Sheeting – These asbestos containing products were to protect the home from heat and potential fire when they were installed behind or underneath an old stove. With most products, when they aged they can break down and the fibers can enter the air.
- Putty and Paint – Asbestos can be found in old paint and putty. These products commonly begin to flake and dust up as they age.
- Asbestos Siding – Many years ago asbestos siding was very popular due to its resiliency to the elements, however if the siding is disturbed asbestos fibers can go airborne and be inhaled.
- Ironing Board Covers – Due to its heat resistance properties, asbestos is a perfect fit for ironing board covers. However, as they age and fray people can be exposed to asbestos.
If you own an older home you want to be very careful when you are renovating or working on certain areas of your home. The best advice is to proceed with caution and call a professional whenever you are unsure if a product contains asbestos.