What to Do About an Asbestos Problem

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Discovering asbestos in your home is no light matter. Asbestos has caused severe health effects in those exposed to it, and it can still be found in many older houses that haven’t been renovated. Looking for asbestos can be challenging, but there are suggestions on what to look for and how to deal with it. You should never handle asbestos on your own, as that could do more harm than good.

How Does Asbestos Cause Harm?

Asbestos is harmless when left undisturbed and intact, but it becomes a hazard when touched or moved. Disturbance can cause the asbestos to break into tiny fibers that are released into the air. When inhaled, these fibers remain in the lungs and can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, pleural disease and lung scarring (called asbestosis).

How Do You Identify Asbestos?

It can be difficult to determine if a building material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. Asbestos is usually hidden away in walls, ceilings, flooring, pipes, insulation or heating ducts, and you may not look there unless you are doing a remodel. Those with houses from before the 90s should have an asbestos inspector come examine the house before doing renovations, even minor ones. Once asbestos has been broken up, it can track to the rest of the house and become far more difficult to eliminate.

What Should You Do if You Find It?

If you’ve identified asbestos in your home, or suspect a material might contain asbestos, don’t move it. Make sure that no one in the house goes near it until it can be removed. Walking through an area with asbestos can risk exposure and allow fibers to attach to skin and clothing. You should only work with asbestos if you have proper training and the right equipment. Avoid the temptation to sweep or vacuum up asbestos materials, as that can also risk its spread. Call a removal contractor who works frequently with asbestos.

What Does a Contractor Do?

Removal contractors remove all the asbestos from your home before it becomes a danger. When looking for a contractor, check their certifications and credentials to determine they are a reliable professional, as there aren’t federal guidelines guaranteeing contractors have gone through the right training. Once you’ve found one, an asbestos abatement contractor, like from Nielsen Environmental, may do an inspection of your home and then carefully remove the asbestos. They may seal off a material containing asbestos, such as a pipe, or enclose the material so that no fibers can escape.