If your home was built before the 1980s, chances are good that it has asbestos somewhere in its construction. Asbestos was touted for its extreme resistance to heat and flame as well as its versatility, so it was added to a variety of building and insulation components.
Generally, asbestos is not a problem unless it comes apart or is exposed. However, you may not realize just how much asbestos you have in your home. You could be at risk for health problems without even realizing. Here are some things you should know about asbestos, where it is in your home, and some signs that there are problems.
What Asbestos Is For
Asbestos has been used since the 1800s as an insulator as well as strengthening cement. Since it was highly flame and heat resistant, its use was expanded to other uses such as brake pads and shingles. It was also highly used in shipbuilding industry, especially during World War II where it because the go-to substance in just about all construction.
Why Asbestos Is Dangerous
The problem with asbestos is that when it becomes friable, or easy to crumble, its minute fibers can be easily sucked into the lungs and cause damage or even cancer. Asbestos insulation and spray-on asbestos are particularly prone to crumbling, while tile and concrete are less like to cause problems. Asbestos is most likely to cause problems if it is disturbed or damaged.
Where Asbestos Could Be Located in Your Home
Asbestos could be located in a wide variety of areas in your home. Most commonly, asbestos was used as insulation either between walls or around pipes and boilers. You may find asbestos in your attic, for example, but also in your concrete foundation or patio. Asbestos was even used in certain types of tapes and clamps. You will often see it used around your air ducts or water pipes.
How You Could Be Exposed Without Knowing
Part of the problem with asbestos is that it's not always easy to spot. It was used so casually in so many products that you will not be able to tell just by looking. If you do any type of remodeling or repair, you could be exposing yourself to asbestos. When you tear apart components or insulation, you are at risk of exposure to asbestos fibers, which are often too small to be seen by the naked eye.
How to Remove Asbestos From Your Home
Most of the time, if the asbestos is still intact, you will not need to remove it unless you are doing renovations. In some cases, you can have a professional come in and encapsulate or reseal the asbestos to reduce the risk of future exposure. Never try to pull off or remove asbestos yourself, even if you think it's as benign as a piece of tape.
What Alternatives Exist to Asbestos
In the United States, asbestos is still widely used. However, there is a partial ban of its use in some items, and phaseout of new and imported asbestos products is in the works. Alternatives to asbestos include fiberglass, cellulose fibers, and silica. Certain types of plastics can also be an effective alternative.
Asbestos had a wide range of uses in the home, especially for insulation. Most of the time, it shouldn't cause a problem unless it is disturbed, torn apart, or broken.
One of the best times to remove or seal off an asbestos product is when you are remodeling your home. If your home was built before 1980, don't begin breaking things up until you have your home checked for the substance. Never try to replace it yourself. Instead, have the professionals at Hygenix Inc. check things out for you.