Although the few modern-day products containing asbestos must be labeled, there are still places in the home where asbestos hazards may be found, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA Website provides a list of places in the home where asbestos might be, and some suggestions about what to do if you suspect you have it in your home.
Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer; mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.
Places where asbestos may occur in the home include:
— Roofing and siding shingles, some of which are made of asbestos cement.
— Insulation in houses built between 1930 and 1950.
— Attic and wall insulation produced using vermiculite ore, particularly ore that originated from a Libby, Montana mine. Vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana between 1923 and 1990. Prior to its close in 1990, much of the world’s supply of vermiculite came from the Libby mine. This mine had a natural deposit of asbestos which resulted in the vermiculite being contaminated with asbestos.
— Textured paint and patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Use of asbestos in those products was banned in 1977.
— Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces.
— Older products such as stove-top pads.
— Asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets protecting walls and floors around woodburning stoves.
— Some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
— Coating on hot water and steam pipes in older houses.
— Insulation on oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets.
If you think asbestos may be in your home, the EPA says, don’t panic. Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.
The EPA recommends that you check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.
Sometimes the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.
If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.
If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.
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