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DIY renovations could raise homeowners' asbestos risk

In recent years, do-it-yourself (or DIY) home renovations have grown increasingly popular in Illinois and throughout the U.S., with homeowners taking on remodeling projects big and small in order to save money and put a personalized stamp on their home. But as they tear out walls and pull up floors, homeowners may be putting themselves at an increased risk of asbestos exposure and the dangers that can - and often do - come with it.

DIY home renovators represent what some are calling a "third wave" of asbestos victims. The first wave was those who were exposed to raw asbestos fibers while working in the mining and manufacturing trades. The second wave was those who used products containing asbestos at work. And now, the third wave is civilians who encounter asbestos in their homes while performing renovation products.

When asbestos is not disturbed, it generally does not create a significant risk. However, when homeowners drill into asbestos cement walls, tear up linoleum floors or otherwise upset the structures in their house that contain the deadly fibers, they significantly increase their risk of contracting mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer or any other of a host of deadly diseases.

The most potentially harmful aspect of home renovations is that homeowners and their families usually continue to live in the house during the remodeling process. This means that they could be exposed to asbestos for an extended period of time, significantly raising their risk of harm.

If you are contemplating a DIY home renovation, it is a good idea to have a licensed professional check your house for asbestos and, if the fibers are present, take the necessary precautions to keep you and your family safe.

Source: Property Observer, "Popularity of home renovation reality television shows creating deadly asbestos health risk: ADFA," Larry Schlesinger, Nov. 26, 2012

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