Asbestos in the Home
If you live in a beautiful older home, then there could be danger lurking throughout all that beauty that you’re not aware of. This danger though, can negatively impact your family’s health. We’re talking about asbestos, that mineral known for its fire-retardant capabilities. Prior to around 1980, builders routinely used asbestos in home construction.
The problem with asbestos is that it breaks down over time. When it does, it releases microscopic fibers that disperse throughout your home in the slightest of breezes. When you and your family breathe in these fibers, they can build up in your lungs and other tissues, causing all sorts of respiratory problems and, ultimately, a variety of cancers.
Where Asbestos Lurks
Asbestos can be a component of numerous materials in your home, including the following:
- Ceiling tiles
- Sheetrock and drywall
- Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves
- Floor tiles
- Blown ceilings
- Window putty
- Joint compound
- Outdoor siding and stucco
- Heating ducts
- Water heaters
- Attic and wall insulation
When Asbestos Becomes Hazardous
Asbestos is harmless as long as it’s not damaged or compromised. However, even such an innocuous thing as driving a nail into an asbestos-containing wall in order to hang a picture can start the degradation process. Once begun, it continues on its own, releasing even more asbestos fibers into the air for your family to breathe.
If your water pipes contain asbestos, their interiors tend to degrade over time, which then releases asbestos into your family’s drinking and cooking water. Asbestos ingestion is just as dangerous as asbestos inhalation and has just as many negative health effects.
Asbestos Red Flags
If you or your family members, especially your children, exhibit any of the following symptoms, asbestos could be the cause:
- Persistent cough
- Persistent hoarseness
- Persistent chest or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent fatigue
- Unexplained loss of appetite or weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
Finding and Removing Asbestos
Unfortunately, confirming the presence of asbestos in your home can be difficult and time-consuming. This is not something you can generally do yourself. You need to call in an experienced asbestos removal contractor. Not just any contractor will do. Each state requires its asbestos abatement contractors to be licensed, so make sure the one you hire has such a license.
Tell your contractor where in your home you think asbestos may be lurking. He or she can safely take samples and send them to the proper labs to be analyzed. If the presence of asbestos is confirmed by lab tests, then your only permanent solution is to have your contractor safely remove it.