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Is It Illegal To Remove Asbestos Yourself?

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on June 25, 2024

Asbestos is the carcinogenic mineral behind serious illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. It was also a highly popular building material in the early 1900s before people knew of its risks due to its natural flame retardance. Today, asbestos-containing material still lies in the walls of thousands of homes. Discovering your home contains asbestos can be frightening, and if you or a loved one developed an aggressive form of cancer due to exposure, you should speak with a qualified New York asbestos lawyer from The Williams Law Firm. While it is not illegal to remove asbestos yourself, one misstep could expose you to potentially fatal health complications. It is important to take the right steps to remove the mineral for your safety and that of your family.

The Real Dangers Behind Removing Asbestos Yourself: Asbestos Exposure

No federal law prohibits home or business owners from removing asbestos themselves without professional assistance. The Environmental Protection Agency does not care if homeowners take on this task alone. The possibility of getting into legal trouble, however, should not be what stops you from attempting to remove asbestos yourself. Homeowners should hire certified asbestos abatement companies to avoid the very real health and safety risks of asbestos exposure.

  • A type of cancer that forms in the mesothelium – the lining of the lungs. Malignant mesothelioma is generally terminal, with a life expectancy of approximately one year after diagnosis. No known cure exists. Symptoms include trouble breathing, shortness of breath, dry coughing, chest pain, fever, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Over 3,000 new patients receive mesothelioma diagnoses every year.
  • A lung condition from inhaling asbestos particles. Asbestos particles can lodge in the lung’s tissues and cause irritation over the years, creating scar tissues. Asbestosis can cause symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, clubbing of the fingers and toes, and chest pain or tightness. No treatment for asbestosis exists.
  • Other conditions. Aside from asbestosis and mesothelioma, someone exposed to asbestos could suffer a range of other serious health problems. These can include ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, pleural effusions, pleuritis, and atelectasis. Most asbestos-related conditions are incurable, as the patient has already had the asbestos particles lodged in his or her body for years (often decades), causing problems.

Removing asbestos yourself could release thousands of microscopic asbestos fibers into the air, leading to a high risk of exposure. Even with the right tools and protective gear, you could accidentally breathe in these particles or spread them further throughout your home. Improper removal can significantly increase the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers for you and your family. Breathing in any amount of asbestos could lead to the particles lodging in your body and causing lung cancer and other life-threatening conditions later in life. Most victims do not know they have breathed in asbestos until years later when they already have incurable asbestos-related diseases.

How to Safely Rid Your Home of Asbestos-Containing Materials

Some states and cities have passed laws banning the independent removal of asbestos by homeowners. Others require homeowners to obtain special demolition permits and permits from pollution control agencies before removal. Contact your local health department to see if it permits nonprofessional asbestos removal in your area. Ask yourself before you begin, however, if the health risks are worth saving the money on professional removal. Asbestos abatement projects are subject to strict regulations, and improper execution can lead to severe consequences.

For you and your family’s safety, do not attempt to remove asbestos yourself. This is a delicate task that must be done safely and correctly if you do not wish to suffer harmful asbestos exposure. If you attempt to remove it yourself and give up part way through, it may be too late to hire professionals. Removal companies cannot legally enter a structure where incorrect asbestos disposal has occurred, as it could place the staff at risk of exposure. Hire a professional removal company to take care of the job from the beginning to avoid running into this issue.

A professional will locate the asbestos-containing materials, safely remove it from your home without sending hundreds of thousands of dust particles through the air, and dispose of it according to federal regulations. Materials containing even 1% asbestos must go into a special dumping zone. Failing to properly dispose of asbestos material is a serious crime that could lead to steep fines and other penalties. Hazardous air pollutants are regulated by the USEPA, and improper handling of asbestos can contribute to these pollutants. Always trust an accredited professional to remove asbestos from your home. Health administration regulations, such as those from OSHA, are in place to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure. Doing it yourself could invite the risk of serious and terminal illnesses. Occupational safety guidelines emphasize the importance of professional handling to prevent exposure.

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