Manufacturers have long known that asbestos causes cancer. Over the past decades, many have found new ways to make products they once made with asbestos. Yet scientists have found that the mineral still poses a real risk to workers in different industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its final risk evaluation for chrysotile asbestos. It found that workers suffered above-average risks in chemical production, the oil industry and the automotive industry. But the risks don’t stop there.
Could your home expose you to asbestos?
The truth is that the people in high-risk industries aren’t the only ones who may suffer from asbestos exposure. Older homes throughout the United States often contain asbestos. It may be found in all sorts of building materials, as well as other everyday items. As the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes, these could include:
- Pipe, furnace and boiler insulation
- Floor tiles and adhesives
- Furnace and stove gaskets
- Textured paints
- Roofing, siding and shingles
- Artificial fireplace coals and embers
- Ironing boards and hair dryers
Both the EPA and CPSC claim these items should be okay so long as they remain fully intact. However, once they get older and start to break down, they can release carcinogenic fibers into the air.
What to do if your home has asbestos
One of the problems with asbestos is that there’s no amount of exposure known to be safe. Asbestos fibers can linger in the body for years or decades before they cause such problems as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Accordingly, if you suspect your home may have asbestos, it’s likely worth your time to test for it. Removing asbestos-laden materials is neither easy nor cheap, but it may spare you or your family members from years of suffering. It’s important to check with your state’s removal guidelines.
Even if you can legally remove the stuff yourself, you might be better off hiring licensed professionals. They should know the best methods for removing the fibers and disposing of them without contaminating your home or property.
Is your home safe?
Determining whether your home is safe starts with knowing its age. Homes built in the 1980s and later are generally free of asbestos. This owes mostly to the restrictions the EPA placed on many uses of the material during the 1970s. Older buildings, especially those built between the 1930s and mid-1970s, are much more likely to contain asbestos.
If you’re looking to buy an older home, the current owner should disclose any known asbestos. If you’re looking to sell, you may need to disclose any asbestos to avoid future legal liability.