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What you need to know about asbestos

This microscopic view shows asbestos fibers which can cause lung cancer with sufficient exposure.

This microscopic view shows asbestos fibers which can cause lung cancer with sufficient exposure.

There are many hazards associated with asbestos. These carcinogenic particles can become airborne during renovation or demolition and can pose serious health risks if inhaled.

Symptoms of asbestos exposure may not appear for several years. Exposure can cause different forms of cancer and scarring of the lungs.

Here’s what you need to know about this harmful substance:
 

  • There were a lot of construction materials prior to 1981 that utilized asbestos fibers as a binding material. The most common things with asbestos materials are ducts, pipe insulation and flooring materials.
  • Every aspect of an older home has the possibility of having an asbestos product in it.
  • It’s important to follow the proper protocol when working around products containing asbestos. If asbestos is detected, it must be safely removed or encapsulated according to state and local guidelines.
  • According to the EPA, the best thing to do is to leave material containing asbestos alone. If you are unsure whether a material contains asbestos, you can hire a professional inspector to sample and test the material.
  • Homeowners tackling the job themselves are taking a risk and must be diligent in following all procedures accurately, or risk exposure to them and their families. A licensed professional, who has the proper certification in asbestos removal, can ensure the material is abated correctly and safely.
  • If hiring a professional, ask for copies of their license and insurance coverage. The abatement contractor should thoroughly explain the abatement procedure. Afterwards, the company should supply documentation of proper removal and disposal and any air testing or visual inspection results, depending on the scope of the job.

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Asbestos

The name asbestos refers to a group of minerals composed of actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite and tremolite. Asbestos is useful for its strengthening, insulating and heat-resistant qualities. It was used in construction from the 1940s to the late 1970s, when its health risks became widely known.

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