Even though asbestos has been used in construction of homes for centuries, it was deemed dangerous to the point of being regulated by the United States federal government in the 1970s. As of 2006, however, asbestos was still lingering, found in around 30 million homes and schools during remodeling and rebuilding.
Asbestos is typically uncovered in a building’s roofing, shingles and siding; old insulation; resilient floor tiles made from vinyl, asphalt and rubber; cement sheet, millboard and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood burning stoves; artificial ashes and embers used in gas fireplaces; and even in automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings and gaskets.
When remodeling, there are a couple of things you should do if your home tests positive for asbestos. The first step should be to is to not touch. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises to leave a potential site alone. Undamaged asbestos could pose more danger than leaving it alone. If you inspect the rest of the house for signs of asbestos damage and find it, then contact your local and/or state environmental officials to determine best practices for removal. Only professionals trained in safely handing asbestos situations should repair damaged areas, and methods and standards are pre-regulated by state authorities. Oftentimes only necessarily sites will be removed—those that pose a greater risk in exposure may only require a small repair.
The Unites States government classifieds asbestos as a known human carcinogen, with exposure increasing the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Human asbestos damage can be caused by people breathing in the poisonous fibers that have broken away from damaged materials. The fibers then can remain in the lungs, which could cause scarring and inflammation, creating chronic lung conditions.
Another risk is asbestosis, an inflammatory condition of the lungs causing shortness of breath, coughing and permanent lung damage. For these reasons, asbestos has a history of banning, starting from the 1890s, when medical literature reported the dangers of breathing asbestos. By the 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency had prohibited spray-on applications of materials containing even 1% of asbestos.
- Original Article written by Jessica McNeil at Cooney & Conway