Asbestos may no longer be in most new consumer products, but it remains a common ingredient in many items in older homes. This means that homeowners, construction workers, firefighters and other people who may come into contact with the materials after a disruptive event can be at risk of toxic exposure.
To protect yourself in these situations, it can help to know which items commonly contain asbestos so you can make informed decisions about handling them.
Products to watch out for
While it can be difficult to know whether materials contain asbestos without having it tested, some products have a higher likelihood of it than others, particularly those made or installed before the 1980s.
Such products include:
- Textured paint
- Floor tiles and adhesive used on floor tiles
- Artificial ashes in gas-fired fireplaces
- Ironing board covers
- Insulation near wood-burning stoves
- Furnace door gaskets
- Blankets or paper tape inside boilers and furnace ducts
- Cement roofing and siding materials
- The coating on hot water pipes
These materials often had a fireproofing quality, which is why they contained asbestos.
Protecting yourself around these materials
When left undisturbed, asbestos has a low risk of posing a health risk. However, in events like fire, construction or demolition or when the products wear down over time, the asbestos fibers can release into the air where people breathe them in.
Thus, when working around deteriorating materials or performing work that will disturb potentially harmful materials, it is wise to take precautions.
For instance, you can get the materials tested before performing a home renovation. If there is asbestos, hiring a certified abatement company to remove the harmful materials can be crucial. In situations where you cannot control the release of asbestos, like responding to a house fire or cleaning up building materials, wearing respiratory equipment and personal protective gear can provide crucial protection.
When people know what types of products are more likely to contain asbestos, they can make safer decisions that protect them from the devastating consequences of exposure.