Asbestos was used in many building materials from the late 19thcentury until the 1980’s because it is fire resistant, durable and a very good insulating material. It was discovered that inhaling asbestos fibers posed a very serious health risk including mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung, esophagus and other internal organs. Because of this risk asbestos is no longer used in the construction industry, however it remains in many buildings, especially those built after World War II. In recent years, removing asbestos has become an important industry.
If you suspect that you may have asbestos in your home, don’t panic. If it is possible, leave it alone, as it is only a hazard if loose particles get loose in the air. Do not sand or saw the asbestos materials. Do not try removing asbestos on your own; seek advice from a professional experienced in removing asbestos. Common areas where asbestos may be found in the home include: hot water pipes, flue pipes, roof shingles, textured paint, vinyl floor tiles or sheet flooring, insulation on older hot water heaters, insulation in old stoves, and ceiling tiles.
If you do plan on removing asbestos, you should take proper precautions. Wear disposable overalls, gloves, hats and shoe coverings. Wear a half face respirator with a filter rated for asbestos, and work in a well-ventilated area. Wet the materials to reduce dust, and try not to break them. Use a wet mop to sweep any debris and only use a vacuum with a filter designed to collect asbestos fibers. Wet and wrap the asbestos materials in sealed plastic and identify it as asbestos. Throw away all of the asbestos contaminated clothing in a sealed bag and also identify it as being contaminated by asbestos. Shower thoroughly to ensure you wash off any fibers that may have gotten through the barrier. Bring all the waste materials to a dump approved for asbestos collection.
Hopefully this has convinced you to avoid removing asbestos on your own. Call a pro and get good advice. Many times the area can be sealed off, and the hazard will be contained.