Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is strong, fibrous and resistant to heat. These properties made it a useful ingredient in many different products, especially construction materials. Although many asbestos products are now banned in the United States, many remain in people’s homes.
Asbestos products can be dangerous when their particles become airborne. Once in the air, they can be easily inhaled or ingested. Inside someone’s body, asbestos particles can cause illnesses, like mesothelioma, to develop.
To minimize the asbestos particles in the air, homeowners are generally advised to leave asbestos products in their homes undisturbed. However, these products can also become dangerous if they begin to deteriorate on their own. When this occurs, it remains unsafe for homeowners to remove the product themselves. However, it can also be unsafe to do nothing.
As a homeowner facing this problem, it may feel like there are risks no matter what you do. However, there is a safe option. If you have an asbestos problem in your home that needs to be addressed, consider hiring a professional.
What type of asbestos professional do you need?
If you are not certain that the damaged material contains asbestos or if you are not sure if the damage warrants action, you may consider hiring an asbestos inspector. This person will examine your home and collect samples. They will use the findings to provide recommendations on how you should proceed. After you have work done at your home, the inspector can also verify that it was completed correctly.
If you already know the extent of the damage and the work that must be completed, you may consider hiring an asbestos contractor. This professional can repair or remove asbestos materials. A repair usually involves sealing or enclosing the material to prevent fibers from being released. The removal process should include steps to prevent the release and spread of fibers, as well as the proper disposal of the hazardous materials.
How to protect yourself when working with asbestos professionals?
There is no federal rule that requires homeowners to hire professionals who are specially trained and accredited to perform work involving asbestos. However, many state and local laws do require this for a good reason.
A professional with the proper training and accreditation can help you resolve your asbestos issue in a way that minimizes the risk to the professional, as well as the risks to you and your family. A professional who lacks this training may inadvertently spread contamination to other areas of your home without anyone realizing what happened.
In addition to seeking professionals with proper accreditation, you can protect yourself by:
- Hiring a contractor who is not associated with the inspector you hire
- Asking each worker to provide proof they completed federal or state-approved training
- Seek reviews of the professionals through your local air pollution control board, worker safety organization and Better Business Bureau
- Request written assurance from the contractor that all safety procedures were followed when they completed the work on your property
Because asbestos exposure can result in such severe illnesses, it is best to take the extra steps needed to prevent such exposure. Professionals who have received the proper training are often the safest option to manage any asbestos risks that may exist in your home.