Identifying Asbestos Exposure
Today, asbestos is an insidious killer found in many America’s homes. Yet, most people are not even aware of their exposure to this carcinogen. Asbestos expert, Dr. Barry Castleman states: “Major asbestos exposure continues today in building renovation, demolition and maintenance, and automotive brake repair.” Since 1900, the U.S. has consumed more than 31 million tons of asbestos. Be sure you know where asbestos may be in your home.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a generic term, which describes a group of diverse, naturally occurring, fibrous minerals. These minerals occur as bundles of strong, flexible fibers that are chemically inert, do not burn, and have good insulating properties.
Where is asbestos found in the home?
Asbestos has been used in many products found in the home to provide insulation, strength, and fire protection. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced a phased ban of asbestos products to be completed by 1996. The most common items in the home that may contain asbestos are:
- Vinyl flooring
- Duct wrapping on heating and air conditioning systems
- Insulation on hot water pipes and boilers, especially in homes built from 1920 to 1972
- Some roofing, shingles, and siding
- Ceiling and wall insulation in some homes built or remodeled between 1945 and 1978
- Sheet rock taping compounds and some ceiling materials
- Asbestos that has been sprayed on ceilings often has a spongy, “cottage cheese” appearance with irregular soft surfaces. The manufacturers can provide information on the asbestos content of home products. A Certified Asbestos Consultant can be hired to determine whether or not asbestos is present and to give advice about how to take care of it safely.
How can asbestos content in materials be determined?
When asbestos is suspected of being present in building materials, it is important to have the materials tested by a qualified laboratory. Visual inspection alone is not enough to identify the presence of asbestos. However, such testing may not be warranted if the material is in good condition, in which case it is best to leave it in place. If the material is damaged, or will be disturbed during normal household activities or remodeling, it should be tested. Read more…