National Safety Month: Asbestos and DIY | What You Should Know

2 July 2018
Category: DIY
2 July 2018, Comments: 0

Asbestos and DIY

Summer is in full swing, and homeowners may be inspired to begin that DIY project they’ve been putting off all year long. Whether you’re refinishing the basement, remodeling the bathroom or patching up damaged drywall, if you live in an older home you could potentially come across asbestos without realizing it. The mineral is generally considered safe when it’s properly contained inside of materials and other products.

However, when those items are broken, the fibers may become airborne and easily inhaled by anyone in the area. Although National Safety Month is coming to an end, it’s always important for homeowners to keep an eye out for asbestos and be proactive about protecting their lungs.

Know Your Risk

Before you start the renovation process, it’s important to consider the age and condition of your home. The construction industry heavily relied on this heat-resistant mineral throughout majority of the 20th century, meaning millions of homes built before 1980 likely have asbestos-containing materials. If you live in an older home, you should contact your inspector to verify that your home is free of asbestos.

If removing the toxin was more hazardous than encapsulating it, they may have decided to seal the fibers with an adhesive to prevent them from becoming airborne. Being proactive before renovations take place could stop you from damaging any products likely to contain the microscopic fibers and, ultimately, protect your lungs from exposure.

Recognizing Toxic Building Products such as Asbestos

Residential homes can harbor asbestos virtually anywhere, from the exterior and common areas to inside the walls of your attic and basement. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a home that was built after 1980, your house is much less likely to contain asbestos.

However, it is important to realize that consumer products today can legally contain up to one percent of asbestos, so you should always be cautious of damaging building materials during DIY projects.

Unfortunately, there’s a long list of building equipment and materials that once contained asbestos, including old floor and ceiling tiles, electrical wiring, caulk, plaster, wallboard, pipe insulation and many more.

Friable asbestos is especially concerning because it can be effortlessly crushed into powder by hand and has been found in textured coatings like popcorn ceilings. When surfaces coated with these materials are improperly scraped or sanded, a significant amount of asbestos fibers are immediately released.

Renovating Your Home Safely

There is no set amount of exposure you need to receive before developing an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma, a rapidly progressing cancer often resulting in a poor prognosis. Fortunately, there is a standard set of guidelines for homeowners to follow if they are concerned about exposure. Keeping these simple steps in mind can prevent you and your loved ones from developing a chronic disease later down the line.

If you come across aged and corroded building materials, enclose the area and try to stop people from walking through the room until it can be further inspected.

Any activity such as walking, dusting, or cleaning can stir up these fibers and allow them to spread throughout the house. Always research and invest in appropriate protective gear, such as a respirator, to protect against toxic dust that may have accumulated over time.

The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to have the materials and area tested by a licensed professional who can safely remove the health hazard. Never try to remove asbestos-containing materials on your own.

Although it may be overwhelming to know this carcinogen possibly resides in the comfort of your own home, moving contaminated products can loosen the microscopic fibers and expose anyone nearby.

A.B. Edward Enterprises, Inc – is a home exteriors company located in Wheeling and Hinsdale, IL . FREE Home Exterior Replacement Estimates for roofing, siding, windows gutters and masonry. Or you can call (847) 827-1605 for more information.