Does the word asbestos send shivers up your spine? It’s crazy how we are always told that natural things are the best things, and while it is true for many materials, it doesn’t apply to asbestos. In fact, asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral, and we bet you didn’t know that it’s been killing people over the years.
It’s been banned since 1980, but asbestos fibers are still present in many old buildings. But don’t worry if you are just finding out now about this, because there is a way to fix the situation.
In this blog, we will tell you what asbestos is and how and why it was used in homes and why approximately 90,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases each year! In fact, asbestos poisoning actually kills more people annually than fires and explosions combined.
Asbestos and Home Inspections
Asbestos became a popular building material in the mid-19th century. Due to its harmful effects on human health, its use was significantly reduced in the 1970s and banned in the United States in 1989.
It was a popular material because asbestos is a mineral that is mined from the earth, thereby making it affordable.
Asbestos fibers have been used in a wide range of construction materials for many decades. In the past, it was used in various construction materials such as pipes, brake pads, gaskets, ceiling panels, floor tiles, oil and coal furnaces, and even in paint.
A home inspection includes everything from checking your building structure to the HVAC system but often, there aren’t any asbestos testing samples collected during the service.
This is because it would take a longer time for samples to come back, and it’s an invasive process, which requires drill holes to be poked in the walls and floors. And for that, you will need permission from the homeowners.
Furthermore, they certainly would not want you to damage the flooring, walls, and ceiling joints during the home inspection period.
Instead, you can contact a locally licensed asbestos professional for asbestos testing. They should be able to take multiple samples from various building areas and then analyze the results using a specified testing protocol.
In many cases, asbestos professional inspectors will take around twelve samples, maybe more, from the premises. According to a certified technician’s home inspection outline, once you have the results of the asbestos testing back from the lab, you can determine which areas contain asbestos and require removal.
Do You Check for Asbestos During a Home Inspection?
Before you purchase any home, there are many things you need to check and analyze, which isn’t a cakewalk. But it’s important to determine whether you want to invest such a huge amount of money in a property.
You wouldn’t ever buy a car without taking it for a test drive. So why would you take the risk when investing hundreds of thousands on a property? That is where home inspectors come into play because they have the skill and expertise needed to help you make an informed decision.
You would not want to invest in a flawed property. Though home inspectors have a huge checklist, asbestos inspection is usually not on that list.
Here is where asbestos inspectors come in. They are licensed professionals trained to identify asbestos fibers and test homes or buildings for harmful asbestos. A certified asbestos inspector will know exactly what to look for and will advise you on potential sources of asbestos.
When is an Asbestos Inspection Necessary?
Asbestos testing and inspection may be required if your building was constructed before 1989, as it’s a known carcinogen, and the substance is now banned.
If your building seems structurally sound and is not damaged or “friable” (loose or brittle), even if it contains asbestos, the asbestos fibers will not become airborne.
The chemical bonds between the individual asbestos fibers are too strong to break down, creating a physically solid, non-friable material.
Asbestos fibers located inside existing buildings – homes or commercial structures – pose little to no threat since no volatile forces are acting on them. Only if there is an impact of fire or force that breaks down the cement surrounding it does asbestos become airborne and hence dangerous.
However, there is an ever-present asbestos health risk of asbestos-containing materials becoming damaged and brittle during a remodel or renovation. This is especially true if people do not take proper safety precautions and seek professional assistance for removing and disposing of these materials safely.
How Can Asbestos Affect Human Health?
Did you know that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can cause lung disease? Many people don’t realize that when asbestos is disturbed, tiny pieces not much bigger than a grain of sand, can get into the air and ] end up in your lungs and cause a health risk.
This process slowly but surely damages lung tissue and has been linked to several forms of cancer, including mesothelioma.
What’s even scarier is the symptoms seem like the common cold, and the particles are hard to detect because their fibers are too small for the naked eye.
Unfortunately, this toxic material is present in the walls and floors and many other household materials, which further amplifies the importance of asbestos testing.
Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found in a Home
Asbestos is found in homes in certain structural elements, most commonly as asbestos insulation and fireproofing materials. You must be aware of where asbestos may be found to avoid asbestos exposure, which could result in severe illness. People living in older homes should look for signs of asbestos containing building materials, especially if renovation or repairs are planned.
Asbestos-containing building materials are found in the following areas in homes:
- Vinyl flooring & Tile
- Textured paint
- Rope & Cloth
- Foam asbestos insulation
- Vinyl Tiles
- Roofing materials
- Ceiling tiles
- Wall and ceiling joints
- Pipes & Wiring
- Drywall & Plasterboards
- Fireplace & Garage doors
- Oil and coal furnace
Asbestos exposure is a health hazard and is responsible for more than 10 times as many deaths as all other types of workplace accidents combined. They’re currently an estimated 1.3 million workers in the United States who could be at risk of asbestos exposure on the job.
If you’re worried that you or someone else may have been exposed to asbestos or just want to be on the safe side, we urge you to get it checked out by a healthcare professional as soon as possible. And also call inspectors to check your home. After all, your house is supposed to be the safest place there is, right?