Think about asbestos risk before beginning home renovation projects

4 Dec 2013 by under News

home renovation flooring 225x300 Think about asbestos risk before beginning home renovation projectsBefore committing to a home project, either from need as a home ages or just a desire to change or improve surroundings, home owners should take a minute to think about . Most home owners know that asbestos was commonly used in building products for years, usually for fire protection, insulation or acoustics. However, they also believe asbestos was finally banned in the 1970s due to health concerns. But it’s important to remember that asbestos-containing products may remain in older homes, and was still included in some products as late as the 1980s.

When left intact, asbestos is not dangerous. But when it is broken or crushed – as is common in home renovation work – it may release microscopic fibers that can be inhaled or ingested. Asbestos exposure may result in the development of lung disease. Asbestos also causes mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that most commonly affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen. In rare instances, mesothelioma may affect the lining of the heart. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

Some materials containing asbestos may be handled safely, as long as they remain intact. However, home owners should be cautious if they suspect there might be asbestos in an area that will undergo renovation. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asbestos may be found in the following sources in the home:

  • Attic and wall insulation that contains vermiculite
  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
  • Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos blanket or tape
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation

Many of these materials cannot be confirmed as containing asbestos just by looking at them, and they are often not labeled or their source material is unavailable. The EPA advises homeowners in doubt to err on the side of caution and treat the materials as if they do contain asbestos. In fact, it may be a good idea to have an asbestos inspection conducted prior to any major home renovation projects.

If an asbestos inspector confirms the presence of asbestos, a licensed asbestos abatement contractor can advise on a safe way to work around the asbestos without disturbing it, or to remove it safely.


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