Asbestos was a common building material in the mid 20th century, often used in attic and wall insulation, vinyl floor tiles, roofing shingles, siding, textured paint, patching compounds, and other applications. However, asbestos fell out of favor when people discovered that it causes cancer.
Undisturbed asbestos is relatively harmless, but inhaling airborne fibers can be harmful to your health. As a result, asbestos abatement is critical if you’re renovating your pre-1980s home or recovering from fire or flood damage. For your safety, never attempt the job yourself because improper handling of asbestos presents numerous health risks.
How Can I Tell If My Home Has Asbestos?
The short answer is you can’t. Asbestos can be found in over 3,000 different building products. Despite its dangers, it has never been fully banned. Therefore, it’s not unheard of for new vinyl materials, pipe insulation, and other products to still contain asbestos. The only way to know for sure if this cancer-causing material is in your home or business is to hire a specialist to perform asbestos testing.
What Happens When You Disturb Asbestos?
Many asbestos-containing materials are friable, meaning they break easily by hand and release microscopic fibers into the air. Age, water damage, and cutting through asbestos can increase the material’s friability, making it release fibers more easily.
When this happens, you run the risk of inhaling or ingesting the fibers. If they enter your airway, the tiny fibers become trapped in the mucus membranes of your nose and throat and may enter your lungs or digestive tract. Your immune system can’t get rid of asbestos fibers, so they linger in your body and cause a range of health problems to develop.
Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
Inhaling asbestos leads to fluid buildup in the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Eventually, lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestos pleural disease, asbestosis, and severe bronchitis or pneumonia can set in. You may not notice any symptoms right away. In fact, the time from exposure to the onset of symptoms, known as the latency period, can be 10 to 50 years.
The gradually appearing symptoms of asbestos exposure may include:
- Chest, back, and stomach pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
The effects of inhaling asbestos worsen over time, so it’s important to protect yourself as soon as you think you’ve been exposed.
Is it Always Necessary to Remove Asbestos?
Asbestos abatement is dangerous work and not always worth the risk. If the material is stable and undisturbed, removal may not be necessary. However, abatement is critical if the material has been damaged or will be disturbed by upcoming renovation work. Failure to remove asbestos under these circumstances could lead to exposure and resulting health risks.
If you need asbestos removal services, turn to DKI. Our licensed disaster restoration company has the proper training and equipment to mitigate the risk before you settle back into your home. To learn more about our services or request an asbestos removal estimate, please contact us at 844.345.2255.