Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used as insulation in houses built before 1975.It is highly effective and economical as a fireproof material and thermal and acoustic insulation. However, prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can cause lung disease. The mere presence of asbestos in your home is not dangerous, but if it is damaged or altered, tiny asbestos fibers can be inhaled, damaging lung tissue and causing health risks. If you suspect that part of your home may contain asbestos, check periodically for tears, abrasions or water damage.
If you discover slightly damaged material, limit access to the area and don't touch or disturb it. If the asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes to your home that could disrupt it, a professional repair or removal is needed. Before calling an asbestos abatement contractor, contact an industrial hygiene company to inspect the affected area and perform checks after removal or repair to ensure that the area has been properly cleaned.Repair involves sealing or covering the asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) treats the material with a sealant that binds the asbestos fibers or coats the material so that the fibers are not released.
The insulation of pipes, furnaces and boilers can be repaired in this way. The cover (enclosure) involves placing a protective envelope or covering around the asbestos-containing material to prevent the release of fibers. Only a professional trained to handle asbestos safely should perform these repairs.Removal is usually the most expensive method and should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal represents the greatest risk of fiber release.
However, it may be necessary to remove it when remodeling or making major changes to your home that may disrupt the asbestos material. In addition, removal may be required if the asbestos material is severely damaged and cannot be repaired otherwise. Removal is complex and should only be performed by a contractor with special training.The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the amount of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also higher if you smoke.
Usually, people who get asbestosis have been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. Symptoms of these diseases usually do not appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.For more help dealing with asbestos problems in the home, contact your state's environmental affairs agency. If handled properly, you can prevent asbestos from causing a problem in your home.