How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure During Home Improvement Projects

How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure During Home Improvement Projects

With the DIY trend growing in popularity, many homeowners are turning to their own toolboxes when their house needs an update. There are hundreds of TV shows and websites dedicated to guiding homeowners through these DIY projects – but there are also hundreds of ways a homeowner can be exposed to asbestos throughout the process.

Asbestos is a highly carcinogenic material that was used in home construction products until the 1980s. It was primarily used as an insulating material, and it was incorporated into countless products. Some of the most popular asbestos products include:

  • Pipe insulation
  • Attic insulation (such as Zonolite)
  • Tiles and tile adhesive
  • Bath tiles
  • Ceiling finishes (such as popcorn ceilings)
  • Wallboard
  • Fibrebroad

While most currently produced construction products must comply with asbestos regulations, many of the materials that were installed before the regulations are still present in homes today. Millions of homes are thought to still contain asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation, while countless other homes can still contain other asbestos products.

These materials are not a problem until they become damaged. When the asbestos is closed off within a product, it is known as non-friable, or non-hazardous to health. However, if the asbestos-containing product is disturbed and the asbestos is exposed, it becomes friable.

Home renovation products such as knocking down walls, re-carpeting bedrooms or re-wiring a bathroom can make asbestos friable. Even much simpler products, such as sanding a cabinet or taking asbestos tape off of a pipe can pose an asbestos exposure threat. To help reduce friable asbestos threats, homeowners can take several steps when performing improvement projects on their homes.

Preventing Asbestos Exposure during Renovations

Before renovations begin, homeowners should contact an asbestos inspection company to come out to the home and identify any potentially dangerous asbestos products. The inspectors can take samples of the products in question and send them to a laboratory to determine whether or not they can be safely renovated.

If the product is not found to contain asbestos, homeowners can go ahead with their home improvement plan. However, any materials that do contain asbestos should not be handled by the homeowner.

Special training is necessary to learn how to remove or replace these items without causing an asbestos exposure threat. Homeowners are advised to contact a licensed asbestos abatement professional to handle these products in accordance with their special training. The company will remove all asbestos hazards from the premesis and clean the worksite with a HEPA-filtered vacuum before the residents are permitted to return to the area.

If a homeowner begins home renovations without the proper asbestos testing, they are placing themselves at risk for asbestos causing cancer such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. However, many homeowners start home improvement projects without understanding the asbestos dangers that lie within their house.

Not all asbestos exposure will lead to an asbestos-related disease, but anyone who has inadvertently been exposed to the fibers during past home renovations projects should register for regular health screenings. These tests can help identify any disease that may develop, even decades after the home improvement project was completed.

Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for the Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.

1 Comment

  1. one
    Comment by riocarlo: Aug 29, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Asbestos has synergistic effects to the body thus refraining from inhaling it is a primary concern when handling such dangerous material.This article gives very nice tips about avoiding the harmful effects of asbestos. Thank you for this.

    Hardiplank Siding Houston

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