On TV, remodeling a house looks fun and easy. Want an open-space living concept? First take a sledgehammer to that wall. Of course, real life is never that simple. For example, if your house was made in the 1980s or earlier, that wall may contain asbestos sheeting or insulation.
Asbestos, as you are likely aware, is a deadly fibrous mineral that causes cancer when inhaled, including mesothelioma and asbestosis.
National Asbestos Awareness Month
If left undisturbed, asbestos does not necessarily pose a threat. However, in remodeling projects, removing sheeting, tiles and even carpet can potentially release asbestos dust into the air.
Like the U.S., Australia imported vast amounts of asbestos for use in the building of residential homes in the 20th Century. To improve awareness of the necessity of getting homes checked for asbestos prior to remodeling, Australia has begun a public service campaign involving a mobile home named “Betty.”
Throughout November, which is National Asbestos Awareness Month in Australia, Betty is traveling throughout the country providing a hands-on learning experience about where asbestos may be found in residential homes.
Can’t make it to Australia? We’ve provided a brief list of potential sources of asbestos below.
A brief overview of potential asbestos in your home
Typical places where you can find asbestos include:
- In siding and shading outside the home
- Electrical switchboards
- Old concrete paths and driveways
- Shingles and corrugated roof sheeting
- Plaster and drywall jointing materials
- Carpet underlay (and other adhesives in the home)
- In bathroom ceilings, walls and floor tiles
- Vinyl floor tiles, walls and backsplashes in the kitchen.
You can find more information on our website. Keep in mind this list is by no means exhaustive, so it is always best to exercise care when remodeling or demolishing anything in your home.
Exercise caution when remodeling
There are visual clues to denote asbestos; however, the only surefire way to know is to have your house inspected for asbestos prior to remodeling. Keep in mind that while DIY remodeling can be a source of asbestos exposure, the large majority of mesothelioma patients are people who worked in construction in some capacity (or the spouses of construction workers who regularly washed clothes exposed to asbestos dust).
In any remodeling project, both commercial and residential, it is vital to first check for asbestos prior to grabbing that sledgehammer. The failure to do so can lead to deadly consequences.