Do you know about asbestos? If you answered no or perhaps you know limited information, that’s okay. Let’s take some time this Global Asbestos Awareness Week to learn all about asbestos and the importance of an asbestos abatement test if you’re looking to buy or sell real estate.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral consisting of tiny fibers. This substance has heat and fire-resistant properties and was a popular additive to numerous materials until it was discovered to be a carcinogen.
Asbestos mines were used to gather asbestos for projects. During its peak, there were more than 100 asbestos mines located in the US between the 1960s and 1970s. Today, asbestos is no longer mined in the US but can still be found in multiple products, including homes built before 1980.
Can Asbestos be Found in the Home?
Simply put, yes. Asbestos can be found in homes, specifically homes built before 1980. This is because the dangers of asbestos exposure did not become common knowledge until the 1980s when the use of asbestos was brought to a halt.
There are numerous areas of residential homes where asbestos-containing materials (ACMS) can be found. These areas include, but are not limited to:
- Vinyl sheet flooring
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Flooring around wood-burning stoves
- Vermiculite attic insulation
- Boiler insulation
- Duct/pipe insulation
- Switch & receptacle boxes
- Switchboard panel backing
- Fuse boxes
- Recessed lighting liners
- Popcorn ceilings
- Textured paint
- Ceiling Tiles
Piping & Heating
- Air duct coverings
- Asbestos lining in steam & hot water pipes
- Cement roofing
- Cement sheets
- Window putty
What Happens if You're Exposed to Asbestos?
Exposure to asbestos can lead to some serious health complications down the road. There are variations of asbestos cancers including mesothelioma cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer. These conditions do not happen right away and have a long latency period after initial exposure to asbestos. For example, mesothelioma can occur ten to fifty years after initial asbestos exposure.
If you find out that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, try not to panic. The best thing to do is keep an eye on your health and visit the doctor if you begin to have symptoms of any asbestos-related disease.
What is an Asbestos Abatement Test?
An asbestos abatement test is the best way to know if there are asbestos particles lurking around the home. It’s best to hire an asbestos abatement professional as they know the safety regulations that need to be followed to test for the toxic material and the know-how to safely remove it if necessary.
Asbestos inspections involve identifying possible asbestos-containing materials and testing them for asbestos. If asbestos is found during an abatement test, then the contractor will work with you to determine the cost to safely remove it or if the asbestos is safely intact and doesn’t need to be removed.
How Can Asbestos Exposure be Prevented?
The best way to prevent yourself and your loved ones from asbestos exposure is to learn as much as you can and have your home tested for asbestos if you suspect that it could be lurking around. It’s important not to skip an abatement test, especially if selling or buying a home built before 1980.
This should be included in your pre-listing checklist if there’s the possibility of asbestos being in the home. Additionally, if you plan to buy a fixer-upper home, consider having an abatement test completed before beginning any kind of home improvement project.
The state of Georgia requires an asbestos inspection prior to the start of any home renovation as disturbing asbestos will increase the spread of dangerous asbestos particles. That said, there are exclusions and stipulations so it's best to do your research before beginning any renovation project.