Owning a home can be a rewarding privilege, especially when you can refurbish your home on your own terms. But have you considered the health risks that you should be mindful of during renovations or hazardous exposures? There could be unknown toxins lurking in your house that can cause serious health complications when you expose yourself to them— especially if you bought an older home. One specific toxin is asbestos, a type of mineral used pervasively in home building materials before the 1980s.
What Does Asbestos Look Like? Where Does It Come From?
Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibers that release into the air when disturbed. The fibers can be long, curly, straight, short, pliable, or stiff. Despite the differing characteristics, it’s most important to know whether the asbestos fibers are friable or non-friable. The friability of asbestos indicates how much the fibers can break. When these fibers are more friable, your risk of asbestos exposure increases, along with your risk of asbestos-related cancer because it’s possible to breathe in the dangerous, loose fibers.
Along with other minerals like talc, asbestos is mined. After the mining process, manufacturers used to add asbestos to a range of materials and products for insulation purposes because it’s resistant to fire, heat, and electricity.
What Home Products Have Asbestos?
In your home, you may encounter asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and products. Due to the previously popular asbestos mining, it was included in foundational and central parts of the home:
● Adhesives, bonds, and sealants
● Flooring tiles
● Roofing shingles
● Popcorn ceilings
● Construction materials
● Pipe coverings
Many other products within your home could have asbestos. There were hardly any restrictions or safety guidelines before the 1980s. Once the health risks tied to previous exposure were apparent, asbestos became a known carcinogen. Individuals exposed to asbestos have the greatest risk of developing mesothelioma, a cancer within the linings of the lungs, stomach, or heart.
Do Research on Your Home
If you live in an older home, your house is more likely to contain asbestos. The age of your home and materials within your home implies the presence of ACMs. There could be an old furnace or areas around wood-burning stoves that require asbestos paper protection. There’s no way to verify on your own whether your home has asbestos, but you should have materials tested by professionals.
Prevent Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos can become lodged within the internal organs of your body and form tumors. It’s critical that you figure out how to minimize exposure.
Sealed ACMs are relatively safe. However, broken or damaged ACMs threaten to cause health conditions and respiratory issues. This is why homeowners need to be careful with renovations. For patients dealing with mesothelioma, their diagnosis may have come years after their first contact with asbestos.
If you are renovating your home, you should be aware of ACMs that are present in your house. Tearing down walls for an open-floor plan or ripping up outdated flooring could single-handedly put you at risk for inhaling asbestos.
Remove Asbestos Safely
You should hire an asbestos abatement professional company if you find or suspect that you have ACMs in your home. There are strict procedures for proper handling and removal. You could also have specialists test areas of your home, but never try to touch or get rid of ACMs on your own. September 26th is Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and it reminds us to be as safe as possible.