If you live in an older house, you may be surprised to find out that you have asbestos. While many might think that it was outlawed a long time ago due to its adverse effects, asbestos is still present in one form or the other in many homes today. Here are a few of the things that any homeowner should know about asbestos.
1. Asbestos is in Many Household Materials
While it is still popular as an insulation material, asbestos can be found in other areas of the home as well. You can expect to find asbestos in vinyl floor tiles, attic insulation, window caulking, HVAC duct insulation, plaster, and even some forms of paint. While not every asbestos-containing material does need to be removed, it’s important to know where you might find asbestos and to be able to remove it as needed.
2. Asbestos is Still Used
Although asbestos cannot be used as freely in the United States as in other jurisdictions, it can be mined and exported in other countries. But why is asbestos still used? Well, for one, because of its low cost; it’s still commonly used in countries such as Greece, Canada, Italy, China, and Russia. Another thing about asbestos is that it is still relatively safe in smaller concentrations and can be a great material when used properly.
3. Asbestos Becomes Hazardous When Fibers are Airborne
When asbestos becomes disturbed, the fibers can become airborne and enter your lungs. The forms of asbestos that are able to crumble and become airborne are also known as “friable.” Fibrous sprayed-on materials used in insulation might become airborne, but asbestos used in tile and roofing does not normally emit any airborne particles. Drilling, sanding, and disturbing materials that contain asbestos is hazardous though, so make sure to only use licensed professionals to carry out any work.
4. Determining Exposure Can Take Years
Although most people know that asbestos is a carcinogen, it can take years for a person to experience negative symptoms after exposure. The two most common diseases caused by asbestos exposure are asbestosis and mesothelioma. The more that you are exposed, the greater your chance of developing these diseases.
Asbestosis is a chronic respiratory condition that is triggered by asbestos fibers causing scarring in the lungs. This can lead to pain and difficulty breathing. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer. When affected, tumors will spread across tissue in and surrounding the lungs. Both of these conditions can take years to develop and people may not even be aware that they’ve been exposed to asbestos.
5. Asbestos Fibers Remain in Your Body
Although your body does a good job of removing toxic material, asbestos cannot be flushed out like other particles. Because the asbestos fibers are microscopic, they can slip through the lung’s filtration system and penetrate into the lung membrane. If the fibers are swallowed, they can penetrate the stomach. Since nothing can be done to remove asbestos fibers from the body, it’s important to wear respiratory protection when coming into contact with it.
Although most people are aware that asbestos is dangerous for their health, they may not realize that asbestos is present in many forms. Make sure that you take precautions needed if your home is older and you suspect that it may have asbestos.