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How to remove asbestos from air and create a healthier home
Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that was commonly used in building materials and household products until the late 1970s. Since then, we’ve learned that asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems if inhaled. Removing asbestos materials from your home can help improve your indoor air quality and protect you and your family from exposure.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
When asbestos materials age or become damaged, tiny fibers are released into the air. When inhaled, these thin, needle-like fibers can lodge deep in the lungs. Over time, the fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation. This can lead to breathing problems and serious diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
That’s why it’s important to remove asbestos materials from your home if possible. This helps limit your exposure to airborne fibers and the health risks associated with them.
How to remove asbestos safely
Removing asbestos on your own can actually increase the risk of exposure. It’s highly recommended to hire a qualified asbestos abatement contractor. They have the proper equipment, training and experience to remove asbestos safely and dispose of it properly. Trying to remove asbestos yourself without proper precautions can release large amounts of asbestos fibers into the air.
However, if you decide to take on a small do-it-yourself project, here are some guidelines to follow:
- Purchase an asbestos test kit at a hardware store. Test samples from the material to confirm it contains asbestos before disturbing it.
- Read up on asbestos removal regulations in your area and follow all protocols.
- Wear appropriate protective gear – disposable coveralls, gloves, goggles and an N95 respirator mask approved for asbestos.
- Isolate the workspace by sealing vents, doors and windows with plastic sheeting.
- Use water to keep asbestos fibers out of the air while working. Carefully wet the material and keep it wet.
- Use hand tools rather than power saws, sanders or grinders that can release fibers into the air.
- Seal removed asbestos in leak-proof containers like plastic bags for disposal.
- Use a HEPA vacuum to clean up afterwards and dispose of vacuum contents properly.
- Shower and put all clothes in a sealed plastic bag for professional cleaning.
It’s critical to take every precaution when handling asbestos yourself. Again, it’s highly recommended to hire a professional for the safest removal and disposal.
Asbestos air monitoring
After asbestos abatement in your home, it’s a good idea to perform asbestos air monitoring. This involves using professional equipment to sample the air and test for any lingering asbestos fibers. A qualified asbestos consultant can conduct this test after cleanup is complete. Air monitoring confirms that the asbestos removal was successful and your home’s air is within safe levels.
If you’re remodeling your home, look for asbestos-free materials and products. Good alternatives include:
- Fiber cement or cellulose fiber cement siding
- Fiberglass or mineral wool insulation
- Plaster walls and ceilings
- Vinyl, wood or metal floor tiles
Be sure to check product labels and descriptions for confirmation they do not contain asbestos.
Air purifiers for asbestos
Using a high-quality air purifier can be another way to reduce asbestos fibers in your home’s air after removal. Look for a purifier equipped with a HEPA filter, which can capture extremely small particles. Here are some top asbestos air purifier options:
|HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier
|Whispure WP1000 Air Purifier
|HealthPro Plus Air Purifier
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to remove asbestos myself?
No, it is highly recommended to hire a professional asbestos abatement contractor for your safety. Improper removal can increase your exposure.
What are symptoms of asbestos exposure?
Symptoms may not appear for 10-50 years. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest tightness and unexplained weight loss.
How dangerous is asbestos?
Asbestos is a known human carcinogen. Exposure can cause serious diseases including mesothelioma and lung cancer.
How much does asbestos removal cost?
Professional asbestos abatement can cost $10-$30 per square foot on average. Actual costs vary based on amount of asbestos present.
Can I remove asbestos tiles myself?
Only if they are non-friable vinyl tiles, meaning they don’t crumble easily. Use extreme caution and follow all protective protocols if attempting.
Is asbestos abatement worth the cost?
Yes, asbestos removal improves home safety and air quality. It also increases property value by removing a known hazard.
The Bottom Line
Asbestos is a harmful substance, so take precautions when removing it from your home. Hire a professional contractor whenever possible for safe asbestos abatement and improved indoor air quality.
For more information, visit the EPA’s asbestos webpage.