Home Construction and Asbestos

A large wave of people are tackling do it yourself (DIY) projects inside their homes and are encountering asbestos during this process. In the past, asbestos was used in many different products throughout the home, but now that asbestos is a known carcinogen, it is not in home products anymore. In older houses asbestos can be found in: attic insulation, vinyl floor tiles, linoleum, window caulking and glazing, roofing material, HVAC duct insulation, siding, plaster, and fiber cement siding. When people try to remove or replace these materials in their homes, they can disturb the asbestos and release it into the air.

When doing a DIY project, it is important to be aware of the materials being removed. If asbestos is intact and looks like it could easily crumble, or is sawed, scraped, or sanded, asbestos fibers can be released into the air. If the asbestos in the home looks like it could be damaged, an industrial hygiene firm should be contacted to test for asbestos. A specially licensed contractor can then be contacted to remove it properly.

When it is time for the asbestos to be removed it can be dealt with in two major ways: It can either be sealed or removed completely. If the asbestos is sealed, a sealant is applied which either bonds the asbestos fibers together or coats the asbestos so fibers cannot be released. If the asbestos is covered, it is placed in a protective wrap to keep it from releasing fibers. These repairs are cheaper options but they can make the removal process harder and more costly in the future. Removal is the other method to control asbestos inside the home. A licensed contractor can come to the house and remove all of the asbestos containing material. Prior to hiring such a contractor you should check to make sure that the company has not been sanctioned for safety violations. After the contractor removes the asbestos, the industrial hygiene specialist should take air samples to make sure the asbestos fibers were not released during the asbestos removal process. When working with a contractor, ask for a written assurance that he or she has followed all local asbestos removal and disposal laws. A good, reputable company should also have general liability and workers’ compensation policies. The homeowner should also ask for a disposal manifest to ensure the asbestos is going to a landfill that is licensed to receive asbestos containing material.

It is important to be careful when renovating older homes because asbestos could be in different locations around the house. It is better to let a licensed professional remove the asbestos to ensure everyone’s safety throughout the process.

Whether you have been exposed to asbestos at home or at work and have mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis you may be entitled to file a claim. To find out your options you can fill out our contact form or call us at 412-471-3980 to speak to one of our attorneys.

Sources:

“Asbestos in the Home” US Consumer Product Safety Commission [Link]

Lee Snodgrass, “What You Need to Know About Asbestos” This Old House [Link]

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