The Survivor's Nest - The Asbestos Risks of a Remodel of an Older Home
If you're thinking of remodeling an older home, please be aware of this most dangerous carcinogen. Today, I'm sharing a guest blog post from Michelle Y. Llamas, who researches and writes about asbestos and its related diseases for the Mesothelioma Center.
If you own an older home, the chance is pretty high that at some point you will consider renovating or remodeling. Renovating an older home can approve its appearance, make it more energy efficient and add to its value. When renovating, homeowners should also be aware of any possible hazards that may lie hidden within the walls, floors, basement or attic.
In older homes built before the 1980s, one of these dangers is asbestos. Asbestos has several properties that made it ideal to add into many different building materials, and it was used to insulate and fireproof homes. Many of these homes still contain many asbestos-containing materials.
If disturbed or broken, these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air. Once airborne, these fibers can enter the body through the nose or mouth and become lodged in tissues. Asbestos is dangerous because the body cannot expel these fibers and over time they build up in the body, causing scarring in the lungs and genetic damage. This can lead to serious lung disease and cancers like mesothelioma – a cancer that is frequently found in the lining of the lung, heart and abdomen.
Where Asbestos is Found
During renovation, tearing down walls, drilling and sanding can disturb asbestos-containing materials and make them a hazard for those doing the work and the residents of the home. Before any work is started, have the home inspected by a professional to locate these materials.
It is impossible to tell if a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it, and there are licensed inspectors that can perform a thorough review of a home. Samples of the material are tested in labs for asbestos.
Some of the places where asbestos may lurk include:
· Boiler insulation
· Furnace duct insulation
· Attic insulation
· Cement sheet around furnaces
· Door gaskets in stoves
· Sound proofing sprayed on walls or ceilings
· Cement roofing or shingles
· Vinyl floor tiles
Inspectors can also tell you if there is any friable asbestos material present. The term "friable" means that the material is easily crumbled by hand pressure. This kind of material is considered extremely dangerous because fibers are released easily from the crumbled asbestos.
If asbestos is found, you should not panic. If the material containing asbestos is not damaged, it does not pose a serious threat. Be sure to hire a renovation company that is trained and licensed to handle asbestos.
Licensed professionals will ensure that renovations properly follow the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines for safely handing asbestos.
Do you remember growing up with asbestos? Have you remodeled a home and had to remove asbestos? Are you trying to remove other toxins and carcinogens from your home to reduce your risk of getting cancer?