Thursday, April 18, 2013

White Lies about Asbestos – What You Need to Know

Help - I’ve been exposed to Asbestos!  Am I gonna die!?  Well, not maybe right away.  In fact, since learning about the health hazards connected to asbestos in the late 1970’s there have been many misconceptions running around regarding Asbestos Containing Materials [ACM], inspections and testing.  The truth of it is that various factors determine how exposure will affect an individual.  Variables including: exposure concentration, duration and frequency all have an effect on the final outcome.  

 If you find asbestos you have to remove it!  Or maybe not?  Sometimes leaving the asbestos alone is actually the best thing.  Even if asbestos is in your home, this is usually NOT a serious problem. The mere presence of asbestos in a home or a building is not hazardous. The danger is that asbestos materials may become damaged over time. Damaged asbestos may release asbestos fibers into the air and become a health hazard.  You may need to have a professional come and do a ‘survey’ to determine the presence and condition of ACM [asbestos containing material] in your home.  After that you may need remediation, however THE BEST THING TO DO WITH ASBESTOS MATERIAL IN GOOD CONDITION IS TO LEAVE IT ALONE! Disturbing it may create a health hazard where none existed before. 1  
I don’t have any old tile in my house – so I’m safe, right?  Think again.  Asbestos is not just found in tile.  Where can you find it?  Roofing and siding shingles could be made from asbestos cement, textured paint and patching compounds on wall and ceiling joints (banned in 1977), Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces, older products such as stove-top pads, ironing board covers, fireproof gloves, hair dryers, walls and floors around wood-burning stoves (asbestos paper), millboard or cement sheets, vinyl floor tiles and the backing / adhesives, hot water and steam pipes in older homes coated with asbestos blanket or tape; Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation.

Homes built between 1930 and 1950 may also have asbestos in the Attic and wall insulation known as vermiculite. 

In the US, most homes built in the 80’s are most likely asbestos free however there is never any guarantee…. and though an asbestos professional may be able to recognize asbestos, you probably can't.  You may be able to guess if your home is 50 years old and there is a solid whitish jacket over your furnace or heating pipes, it is probably asbestos.  But to know for sure, especially with manufactured materials like floor tiles, wallboard or siding, you need to have testing done. 
I should just leave the Asbestos in my home alone and it won’t be a problem.  Yes and no.  If it has been determined that the asbestos in your home is in GOOD CONDITION, then it may be best just to leave it alone, but what is good condition?  Is it cracking at all?  Is it possible that any of those little fibers are getting into the air and then into your lungs?  Are you going to sell the home?  What about providing disclosure to the buyer?  The best way to determine if there is Asbestos in the home and what you should do about it is to have an Environmental Professional come take a look.   Current federal regulations have also effectively made do-it-yourself asbestos removal impossible to do legally, which means... hiring a professional.
Are you overwhelmed yet?  Not to worry - MeritCorp can help.  Just call or email and we will get you connected with our Environmental Professional.  They will determine what, if any asbestos is in your home and help you make the decisions about how to handle it.   Just call or email us at: