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Asbestos In The Home

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on August 25, 2021

Exposure to asbestos, even in trace amounts, can have dire health consequences, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. You could be at risk of asbestos exposure right in your own home. As a homeowner, follow these dos and don’ts for navigating the possibility of asbestos in your walls, floors, insulation, attic and other places. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family from exposure.

Do Educate Yourself on the Dangers of Asbestos 

First, learn as much as you can about asbestos. The more you know about what asbestos is, how you could be exposed and the diseases that it can cause, the more likely you are to make wise decisions and avoid exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is a proven carcinogenic, meaning it causes cancer. 

Asbestos is found in many common building and household products, including ceiling and floor tiles, drywall, insulation materials, furnaces, paint, cables, cement, ductwork, roof shingles, sheetrock, and spackling. The signs and symptoms of an illness related to asbestos generally will not appear until decades after the date of exposure – oftentimes, 20 to 60 years later.

Do Not Assume a Property Doesn’t Contain Asbestos

You may think that since asbestos presents known health hazards, modern-day buildings do not contain this mineral. However, it was only recently discovered that asbestos can cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that all homeowners should presume that buildings constructed before the 1980s contain asbestos. Until the 1980s, asbestos was widely used to build homes and structures due to its versatility, durability and natural fireproofing properties. 

Do Hire a Professional for an Asbestos Inspection

Before you purchase or move into a new property, hire a professional to conduct an asbestos inspection. Never try to search for asbestos yourself. You may not know what to look for or how to properly protect yourself from inhaling minuscule asbestos fibers. Hire a professional who is licensed and trained in asbestos detection. In the meantime, take every precaution to avoid exposure to materials that may contain asbestos on the property.

Do Not Try to Remove Asbestos Yourself

If you discover that your property contains asbestos, it is extremely important to pay for a professional to handle removal. No amount of asbestos is safe for exposure. The cost of professional asbestos removal is far less than the cost of being diagnosed with a terminal illness such as mesothelioma. A professional will have the correct tools, gear and personal protective equipment to safely and effectively clear your home of asbestos. A professional will also know where to discard asbestos-containing materials to comply with federal laws.

Do Leave Asbestos-Containing Materials Alone 

If you know or have reason to suspect that any materials in your home may contain asbestos, be extremely careful not to disturb them. Even minor repairs should be done by a professional with training in handling asbestos. Stirring up asbestos-containing dust in the air is the main way that it gets inhaled and lodged in the body’s tissues. Do not dust, vacuum, sweep, saw, sand, scrape or drill holes into materials that may contain asbestos. In addition, don’t use sandpaper, abrasive pads or a power stripper on flooring or floor wax that may contain asbestos.

Do Not Enter Your Home Until It’s Safe to Do So

If you arrange for professional asbestos removal, you and your family should stay somewhere else until the task is completed. Do not re-enter your home until you have been cleared to do so by a licensed asbestos professional. If there is a pile of asbestos-containing materials outside of your home, be careful not to track it through your house. Leave it alone and avoid the area until a trained professional can tend to it.

Do Speak to an Attorney if You’ve Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, and you believe you were exposed to asbestos in your home, consult with an attorney at The Williams Law Firm about your legal rights and options. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the builder or construction company of the home, the previous owner, a home inspector, a product manufacturer, or another party.

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