Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fiber that has been valued throughout human history, even as far back as Ancient Egypt, because it is incredibly durable and highly heat resistant. Asbestos is also the only known cause of the deadly cancer mesothelioma, as well as asbestosis, lung cancer and multiple other potentially fatal diseases. The United States did not ban the use of asbestos in construction until the 1980s, so many homes in America were constructed with a number of products containing asbestos.
In addition to being heat resistant and durable, asbestos is also very versatile so there are a number of features in our homes that may contain the deadly mineral, including:
- Floor tiles
- Gas fireplaces
- Materials used to patch walls
If your house was built before the 1990s, there is a chance that there is asbestos in your home. Still, it’s important not to panic; there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
According to the EPA, if you suspect that there is asbestos in your home you should contact an asbestos expert to conduct an inspection. If it is determined that asbestos is present, you will need to contact an asbestos remediation and abatement specialist to neutralize any threats.
In some cases, asbestos can be coated or “encapsulated” to ensure that fibers do not become airborne. If encapsulation is not possible, the asbestos will need to be removed. DO NOT attempt to remove asbestos yourself — there are professionals who have the specialized equipment and training necessary to ensure safe removal.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that should be avoided when possible, but it’s important to note that mesothelioma is a very rare disease. Nevertheless, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. If you suspect your home may contain asbestos, it’s a good idea to contact a professional who can safely look into the matter.