“The Forgotten Dangers of Asbestos in Older Homes”

The Forgotten Dangers of Asbestos in Older Homes

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that was commonly used as an insulating and fire-retardant material in buildings constructed before the 1980s. However, asbestos is also a known carcinogen that can cause serious illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis when inhaled. Many homeowners are unaware that asbestos may still be present in older homes, exposing them and their families to potential health risks. As a homeowner living in an older house, I felt it was important to educate myself about the dangers of asbestos and steps I could take to protect my family.

Where Asbestos Hazards May Lurk in Older Homes

Asbestos was widely used in many building products before safety concerns led to regulations curtailing its use. In older homes, asbestos may still be found in:

Even small exposures to deteriorating asbestos in an older home can be dangerous if fibers become airborne. The EPA warns that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.

Health Risks Posed by Asbestos Exposure

Inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers over time can lead to serious health issues:

Smokers exposed to asbestos face a risk of developing lung cancer that is greater than the individual risks from asbestos and smoking added together.

Signs of Asbestos-Related Illness

The diseases caused by asbestos exposure often have long latency periods, meaning symptoms may not appear until decades after the initial exposure. Some common signs of asbestos-related illness include:

If any of these symptoms manifest, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. Early detection can improve prognosis in asbestos-related diseases.

Testing My Home for Asbestos

Since asbestos in older homes is often hidden, I decided to hire an asbestos testing professional to sample various materials and determine if asbestos was present. Some tips for asbestos testing:

Knowing whether or not my home contains asbestos will allow me to make informed decisions about safely managing or removing any hazards.

Safely Managing Asbestos in the Home

If asbestos is identified in my home, there are methods to minimize exposure:

It is usually safest to leave intact asbestos materials undisturbed. Only damaged or deteriorating materials with high potential for airborne fiber release should be removed.

Replacing Asbestos Roofing in My Home

One project I faced was needing to replace my home's older asbestos cement roof shingles. To do this safely:

Even though this cost more than DIY roofing, it gave me peace of mind knowing the project was completed safely by certified asbestos professionals.

Teaching My Children About Asbestos Risks

Since my home's construction date means it likely contains some asbestos, I talked to my children about the risks:

Educating my children empowers them to make smart choices and avoid risky exposures. Knowledge and vigilance are key to keeping my family safe.

Conclusion: Prioritizing Asbestos Awareness

After researching asbestos hazards in older homes, I feel much more informed about risks that were previously "out of sight, out of mind." Key takeaways for any homeowner with an older house:

Staying vigilant about this hidden hazard will allow me to take steps to protect my family's health and safety in our older home. I encourage others in similar situations to make asbestos awareness a priority.