Dealing with Disturbed Asbestos in Your Home
If you suspect that asbestos in your home has been disturbed, it’s important to take action right away. Asbestos exposure can lead to serious health issues like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with disturbed asbestos in your home.
What to Do if Asbestos is Disturbed
First, leave the area immediately. Disturbed asbestos fibers can remain airborne for a long time, so limit your exposure. Keep others, especially children and pets, away from the area. Do not vacuum, sweep, or otherwise disturb the asbestos material further as this can increase fiber release. Restrict access to the area by sealing it off if possible.
Next, contact an asbestos abatement professional. Do not attempt to handle the asbestos yourself, as special equipment and training is required. Only a licensed professional can properly clean up and dispose of asbestos. Be sure to get a few quotes before selecting a company.
The abatement company will seal off the affected area, remove the asbestos, and thoroughly clean the space using HEPA vacuums and wet cleaning methods. Air monitoring is done throughout the process to ensure safety. Once finished, they will dispose of the asbestos following federal regulations.
Types of Materials that May Contain Asbestos
|Pipe and boiler insulation||Basements, mechanical rooms|
|Sprayed-on fireproofing||Structural beams, walls and ceilings|
|Vinyl floor tiles||Throughout home|
|Roofing shingles and siding||Exterior walls and roofs|
Asbestos was commonly used in many building materials prior to the 1980s. If your home was built before then, it’s a good idea to test these materials to see if asbestos is present before doing any renovations or demolition.
Preventing Asbestos Exposure
Here are some tips to avoid disturbing asbestos in your home:
- Leave undamaged asbestos materials alone
- Use care when drilling, cutting or otherwise disturbing walls, floors, and ceilings
- Have asbestos professionally removed prior to renovations
- Use only licensed abatement contractors to handle asbestos
- Regularly inspect asbestos materials and watch for damage
Taking proactive measures can help prevent accidental asbestos exposure. It’s also wise to have your home periodically inspected by a professional. This can identify asbestos issues before they become a problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
How dangerous is asbestos exposure?
Asbestos exposure can cause serious illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. These diseases often don’t show up until decades after exposure. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
Where is asbestos commonly found in homes?
Asbestos can be found in insulation, flooring, roofing, siding, and other materials. Homes built prior to the 1980s are more likely to contain asbestos products.
What should I do if I’ve disturbed asbestos?
Leave the area immediately and restrict access. Contact a licensed asbestos abatement professional to handle the cleanup and disposal. Do not try to handle it yourself.
How do I know if something contains asbestos?
You can’t tell just by looking. To identify asbestos, a sample must be analyzed by a qualified lab. Many home inspection services can test suspect materials.
Can I remove asbestos myself?
No, asbestos removal should always be done by licensed abatement professionals. Improper removal can dangerously increase asbestos exposure.
How much does asbestos removal cost?
Costs vary depending on the amount of asbestos present. On average, asbestos abatement costs $1,000-$5,000+. Get quotes from several companies.
How can I avoid asbestos exposure?
Leave undamaged asbestos alone, use caution when renovating, and have a professional handle any necessary asbestos removal. Regular inspections can also help detect issues.
For more information, visit the EPA’s asbestos page.