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Asbestos in the house…what should i do?

Okay, so you found the perfect person to marry and spend the rest of your life with, your soul mate. You've got two beautiful kids and a nice car, and now you've found the perfect house! It's big and full of unique character and was built well years and years ago. Before you get along with moving your things into your beautiful house you need to find a professional that does asbestos surveys to make sure your home is safe and asbestos free. Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos present, used as insulation. The presence of asbestos, and the discovery that one has been in close proximity both need to be dealt with immediately.

What is asbestos, and why is it so dangerous?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber. Only a special microscope has the ability to identify if the material in question is, in fact, asbestos. More than one type of asbestos exists, six to be exact, but only three that are common: Chrysotile (white in color), Amosite(brown) and, Crocidolite (blue) .  Before we knew the dangers of asbestos, it was used widely as a insulator, and sometimes it was added to other materials to strengthen them.

While asbestos is no longer used, and has not been for some time, it does exist in older structures. People with prolonged exposure to it often have a higher risk of developing illnesses related to their exposure. The at-risk population is mostly people who worked directly or indirectly with it, or lived in a structure where asbestos was present. Asbestos is known to cause the following ailments and illnesses

  • Asbestosis (respitory illness)
  • Asbestos warts
  • Pleural plaques (lung scarring)
  • Several types of cancer including mesothelioma and common lung cancer.

What actions need to be taken if asbestos is discovered in the house?

If you suspect asbestos may be present in your home, there's no need to panic.  The good news is that asbestos material that's in good condition, and hasn't been disturbed does not release the harmful asbestos fibers.  So, while the situation needs to be checked out, there's not an automatic assumption of danger.  Schedule an asbestos survey so that a professional can audit your home and confirm any suspect material.   They'll also deliver an action plan with recommendations.

If they find that the asbestos material is damaged, or if you are plan on making anychanges to your home that might disturb the material, removal or repair will be the recommendation.

On the other hand, if asbestos is found, but seems to be in good condition, the recommendation might be to leave it in place.  In this case, plan to check the insulation on a regular basis. It's important that you don't touch it, but do look closely for signs of damange or wear.  Any tears or water damage of the material can cause a release of the fibers.  It's especially problematic if the material is disturbed by handling it, compressing it, or exposing it to an open air flow.

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