Asbestos could be a concern in homes built as recently as 1985

9 Sep 2013 by under News

carpenter 100x100 Asbestos could be a concern in homes built as recently as 1985A topic we talk about regularly on this blog concerns the hidden danger of asbestos in home repair, improvement and renovation projects. For decades, asbestos was used in a variety of building materials, for and as a fire retardant. While most asbestos-containing products were not manufactured or used past the late 1970s, materials may still be present and could pose a danger when disturbed.

As a general rule, asbestos-containing materials are not dangerous if they are intact and are not disturbed. However, when they are broken, cut or crushed – as is often the case in home repair and renovation work – they can release microscopic fibers that can be inhaled, even if workers are wearing paper masks.

Inhaled asbestos fibers may lead to the development of serious illnesses including asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Mesothelioma most often affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen, and very rarely the lining of the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

Asbestos was commonly used from the 1930s to around the 1970s in thermal insulation, such as that placed around boilers and pipes. Other household products that may contain asbestos include:

  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • “popcorn” ceiling texture
  • Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas fireplaces
  • material including shingles
  • Siding material
  • Plaster
  • Window caulking and glazing
  • Linoleum

By the late 1970s, it was mostly illegal to manufacture most asbestos-containing products for construction. Any products that are still manufactured that contain asbestos must contain warning labels.

However, it was often ok for builders to use asbestos-containing products that had already been manufactured and sold. For example, it was still legal to use existing popcorn ceiling texture that had been stockpiled. As a result, some homes built even as recently as 1985 may contain asbestos in the ceiling materials.

Homeowners planning a renovation project who suspect there may be asbestos present should err on the side of caution. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises that people treat the substance as if it does contain asbestos and act accordingly. The agency recommends hiring a professional to take a sample to determine if asbestos is present or not. The sample will most likely need to be sent to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified laboratory for testing.

If asbestos is present, homeowners should hire a contractor trained in handling asbestos, or a licensed asbestos abatement professional to recommend a solution for dealing with the asbestos. It may be possible to seal the asbestos, or it may need to be removed.

Sources:
Consumer Product Safety Commission
This Old House
Daily Herald

One Response to “Asbestos could be a concern in homes built as recently as 1985”

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