Avoiding asbestos danger at home

19 Mar 2008 by under News, People

Recently, it has been reported in the news that older is made with asbestos. A common home repair project is replacing a worn vinyl or linoleum floor. What are the dangers? Should homeowners hire a professional?

There seem to be conflicting opinions on this issue, with some experts saying that removal of vinyl flooring is relatively safe if proper precautions are followed, and others recommending that you call asbestos abatement professionals.

James Carey and Morris Carey, known as the Carey Bros., are nationally-recognized experts on home building and renovation. They share their 55+ years of experience as award-winning, licensed contractors with millions of people nationwide through a weekly radio program and syndicated newspaper column, both titled On The House. You can also find their information on their web site, at www.onthehouse.com.

The Carey Bros. recently addressed this issue. They point out that vinyl flooring usually comes in two forms – tiles and sheeting. They say the tiles are safer to remove because the asbestos is held together by the vinyl during removal.

The brothers report, “Folks licensed in asbestos abatement tell us that removing the floor in large chunks is reasonably safe. However, breaking it into little tiny pieces during the process could be dangerous.”

However, they also acknowledge that no amount of asbestos is considered safe. Research shows that ANY exposure to any amount of asbestos can be dangerous, because even one fiber can be inhaled and imbed itself in the lungs. Asbestos does not leave the body or dissipate over time. Once you are exposed, it is there. It may not necessarily cause asbestos disease, but you are at risk.

According to literature compiled by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the , homeowners are warned that by removing materials potentially contaminated with asbestos themselves, they are accepting serious health risks.

Also, the Spokane publication points out that homeowners are liable when they choose to remove asbestos containing materials themselves. They note that “Your only legal options in having asbestos removed from your home are to hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor or do the work yourself. The law prohibits you from hiring anyone other than an asbestos abatement contractor to perform asbestos removal work. Family members and friends may participate legally, provided they do so as unpaid volunteers.”

The Puget Sound and Spokane guides are EXCELLENT resources for weighing the risks and options for this type of project. You can download a PDF version of the Vinyl Removal – How-to Manual or Asbestos-Vinyl removal warning documents. These are essential reading prior to starting a project like this.

Also, it is important to check to make sure that your state does not have any special legislation pertaining to asbestos-removal from a private residence. You may want to check with your local Homebuilders Association.

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