If you’re thinking about remodeling or redecorating your home, especially if your home was built between 1940 and 1975, you will want to take steps to avoid asbestos exposure. For those familiar with asbestos, it is a compound previously used to manufacture a variety of building materials, from drywall to vinyl floor covering and everything in between. Asbestos-based products were a mainstay in construction until the late 1980s when it was formally banned by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) after it was shown to be linked to mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lungs, heart, and abdomen. In this article, we take a look at a few safety precautions that you should consider in protecting yourself from asbestos exposure.
LOCATING ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME
If you’re planning a major home renovation project, it is worth noting that you will likely find asbestos in your drywall, ducts, caulking, and plaster. Basically, asbestos was used through the interior of most homes. Needless to say, you will be exposed to these dangerous chemicals once any aspect of the renovation project gets underway. Asbestos was commonly used to insulate homes, which means it is likely to be found behind drywall and covering the pipes in your home. That said, the risk of mesothelioma is greatest once asbestos particles are inhaled. Of course, this is not an attempt to discourage you from moving forward with your project. It is merely an attempt to warn you of the dangers that come with renovating or redecorating an older home.
HOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS
Assuming you’re a homeowner who takes pride in renovating and redecorating your home and relish in “do it yourself” projects, here are 7 tips that can help minimize your exposure to asbestos:
1. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
Before the start of any renovation/redecorating project, it is always a good idea to take time to examine the area where you plan on working for signs of asbestos. For example, consider cutting through a small piece of dry to inspect for asbestos fibers before tearing down an entire wall.
2. CALL A PROFESSIONAL
As previously noted, your greatest risk in terms of asbestos exposure occurs once building materials have been disturbed. If you encounter asbestos during the renovation/redecoration project, you are strongly urged to hire a professional asbestos removal service as opposed to handling the materials yourself.
3. AVOID USING DUST-PRODUCING TOOLS
While this not always practical, you should aim to limit the use of power sanding and cutting tools, for example, that may create dust that contains asbestos. Whenever possible, consider using hand tools and always wear a mask to avoid possibly inhaling airborne asbestos.
4. WASH CLOTHES THAT HAVE ASBESTOS DUST ON THEM
If your clothes have asbestos dust on them, it is a good idea to wash them as quickly as possible as this will keep asbestos from spreading throughout your home. Before putting your clothes in the washer, however, consider wetting them down first as this will keep asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. Why is this important, you ask? Once asbestos becomes airborne, it can be easily inhaled and could lead to being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
5. HANDLING MATERIAL THAT HAS DECOMPOSED
When it comes to any renovation or redecorating project, there is a good chance that you will come across decomposed material. Asbestos typically causes building materials to deteriorate. That said, if you notice that baseboards, drywall, and other materials are inexplicably crumbling or flaking, it may be a byproduct of asbestos. Obviously, if you notice any of these tell-tale signs, it would be a good idea to contact an asbestos removal service.
6. IDENTIFY SOURCES OF ASBESTOS
As previously noted, asbestos is commonly found in certain building material. If you’re remodeling your kitchen, for example, asbestos may be located in floorboards, tile, and vinyl flooring. As such, it would be a good idea to wear a mask if you intend on replacing your kitchen floor. Similar precautions should also be taken in re-flooring other rooms in your home as well.
7. DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT AS ASPESTOS SERVICE
Although your first inclination might be handle asbestos removal on your own, this is a bad idea in that it can jeopardize your health and the health of your family. Once asbestos becomes airborne, your entire family is at risk of developing mesothelioma. Studies have shown that women and children who were never in contact with asbestos were diagnosed with the disease after inhaling the toxic fibers that were spread throughout the home. The best way to safeguard your health and the health of your family is to hire a company that can inspect your home for asbestos and also remove any building materials that may contain it.
Having discussed ways to avoid asbestos exposure, let’s turn our attention toward recognizing asbestos symptoms. Long-term exposure can causes the following health problems:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chronic coughing
- Chest pain
- Swollen fingertips
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you’re encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
HAVING YOUR HOME INSPECTED FOR ASBESTOS
If you believe that your home contains asbestos, you’re encouraged to hold off on renovating or redecorating until you can have your home properly inspected by a reputable company like Asbestos Testing Threshold Environmental, a premier clean air monitoring company. Headquartered in Milton, QLD, the company offers unparalleled asbestos air monitoring services that can provide you and your family with peace of mind. In addition, they also offer indoor air quality monitoring that can detect other airborne contaminants in your home that could cause health problems.