Asbestos had many qualities that made it useful in thousands of products, some of them used in homes. Though asbestos wasn’t as heavily used in houses and apartment buildings as it was in power plants or steel mills, asbestos-containing products for residential use were sold into the 1980s.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and provide fire resistance and heat insulation.
How Might Does Asbestos Affect My Health?
Asbestos fibers are extremely small and light. Intact asbestos-containing products are generally safe. Fibers can be released into the air when they’re installed, disturbed in some way, deteriorate, or are removed. You can inhale or swallow airborne fibers.
If that happens, your chances of developing asbestos-related cancers increase. They include:
- Lung cancer
- Mesotheliomas of lung and chest cavity linings (pleural mesothelioma), abdomen and abdominal organ linings (peritoneal mesothelioma), or heart lining (pericardial mesothelioma)
If you inhale large amounts of asbestos, you risk a lung disease that can severely restrict your breathing ability (asbestosis). Although you could develop mesothelioma after exposure to small asbestos amounts, it’s very rare.
Where Might Asbestos Be in My Home?
If your home was built since the mid-1980s the chances are small it has asbestos in it. The fiber was largely regulated off the market in the late 1970s though some products that encapsulated it (like vinyl flooring) continued to be sold into the 1980s. The older your home, the greater the possibility that asbestos is in it.
Here are some products and situations where asbestos-related products were used, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Furnace ducts, boilers, and steam pipes were insulated with asbestos blankets or paper
- Insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves could include asbestos cement sheets, millboard, or paper
- Access doors in furnaces, wood, and coal stoves used asbestos-containing gaskets to keep heat in
- Vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber tiles were used, often with asbestos-containing mastics or glues
- Asbestos-containing soundproofing or decorative material was sprayed on walls and ceilings
- Walls and ceilings could have asbestos-containing patching and joint compounds, wall boards, and paint
- A home could have asbestos-containing siding, cement roofing or roofing shingles
- There were asbestos-containing artificial ashes and embers for gas-fired fireplaces
- Uses for asbestos included fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, hairdryers, and ironing board covers
If you maintained or repaired a vehicle at home, you could also be exposed to asbestos-containing clutch and brake parts.
What Should I Do If Asbestos-Containing Products are in My Home?
If you think something is old enough, and fits the description of an asbestos-containing product, you should have it professionally tested to determine if it has asbestos. If it does, depending on the product and if it’s intact or deteriorated, you may be able to encapsulate it, or you might need to hire professionals to abate it to seal it up or remove it.
Removing asbestos yourself can cause severe exposure to you, others living in your home, and to your neighbors. After you remove it, asbestos can’t legally be thrown out like it’s household trash. It must be treated like a toxic substance and disposed of as such.
If something tests positive for asbestos, you should also avoid the following to prevent asbestos fibers from being released into the air:
- Removing it
- Sanding or scraping it
- Cutting, tearing, sawing, or drilling into it
Consult with a reputable, professional asbestos abatement company before deciding what to do. Research the company to make sure they comply with all safety and health rules and regulations. “Fly by night” companies that charge below market rates and ignore your and their employees’ safety are out there looking for work.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
If you’re diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you may have a right to compensation for the harm you suffer. We are your local resource if you or someone you love suffers from mesothelioma or an asbestos-related illness in Kentucky. Call our law firm toll-free at 855-385-9532. You may also complete our contact form for a free initial consultation.