Today, a person is the most likely to be exposed to asbestos during a home repair or renovation. Up until the 1970s, asbestos was one of the most common materials used for insulating both commercial and residential buildings. When tests started to reveal just how dangerous this material was, it was banned in most places, but there are still thousands of buildings standing that were built using materials that contain asbestos. Because of its ability to resist fire, it was used in ceiling tiles, shingles, the underlayment for roofs, sealants, insulating walls and ductwork and much, much more.
Exposure to asbestos is linked to the development of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Usually, these conditions will not appear for up to forty years after exposure, making it difficult for the individual to know when they were exposed and how they were exposed.
Because of the wide variety of materials that contain asbestos and because many of the homes that were built using this materials are now being renovated or regularly require repairs, many homeowners are now being exposed to asbestos, even though its use has been banned for decades. According to reports, there are more than three thousand different materials that contain asbestos, and a majority of them are building materials. Even vinyl flooring can contain asbestos.
Repairs or renovations that disturb the asbestos fibers can turn the average home into a dangerous place to live. For example, repairing shingles after a windstorm can expose a homeowner to airborne asbestos fibers, which were stirred up by the wind. Tearing down walls or removing old sheetrock and installing new sheetrock can have the same effect.
Luckily, there are ways for you to test your home and its materials for asbestos. Once you are aware that asbestos might be an issue, you can test materials that might contain asbestos and, instead of handling them yourself, have them handled by qualified professionals, like Brickley Environmental‚ who are certified to handle these hazardous materials.