Mountain Life Views

The Mountain Life Blog

Mountain Life Views

The Mountain Life Blog

Back To Blog

Mesothelioma Awareness Day: Avoiding Asbestos In The Home

September 26th is Mesothelioma Awareness Day


Over the span of many years, the housing industry has strived to increase the efficiency of our homes and make them a safer place to live. Innovations like smoke detectors, air purification systems, and smart home technologies have all played a role in reducing health risks within the home. However, some breakthroughs in the past have led to adverse effects on our health, such as the use of once-renowned materials like Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, and asbestos.


Asbestos, once known as a miracle mineral, was used in manufacturing a variety of home construction materials from the 1940s through the 1980s. It became popular because of its low cost and ability to withstand high temperatures. Unfortunately, asbestos fibers are extremely hazardous when inhaled and can eventually lead to mesothelioma. Since this discovery in the late 1980s, asbestos production has been mostly banned but still makes its way into some products today.


You may be wondering, what products on the market today still use asbestos, and how can we ensure our homes are safe from this dangerous mineral? We’ve put together a list of some well-known products that still contain asbestos and ways to avoid exposure in the home.


Home Project Materials Still Containing Asbestos


More homeowners than ever are acting on home improvements, thanks to internet resources like YouTube or Pinterest. These platforms inspire home improvement followers to try different home projects themselves or take their vision to a professional remodeler for help. When planning a project, try to create a list of needed materials and conduct in-depth research on these materials to ensure everyone’s safety. To protect yourself and your household, avoid using these asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).


Imported Cement Boards


Cement boards serve a lot of different construction purposes but are mostly used as a backer for stone, brick, and tile. When compared to drywall, cement boards have superior durability and water resistance. While there was a partial asbestos production ban in 1989, impacting asbestos production in the United States, imports of asbestos cement sheets still are legal to this day. Before purchasing cement boards for your next project, do some research on which brands contain no asbestos.




This is one of the most common ways to encounter asbestos within older homes, as almost all insulation produced between the 1940s and 1990s contained asbestos. Vermiculite insulation, also known as “loose fill”, resembles a rocky texture and is easy to identify in comparison to modern insulators. If you see this kind of insulation in your home or encounter it during home projects, it's best to leave it be and contact a local asbestos remover. 


Today, modern insulation products are still allowed to contain <1% asbestos, which is significantly better than the unregulated years before 1989. Even with this improvement, asbestos should still be handled with extreme caution. If you're tackling a home improvement project involving newer insulation, wear a HEPA mask to avoid inhaling even the smallest amount of dust or asbestos. Here’s a list of modern asbestos-free insulation products:


  • Cellulose insulation
  • Fiberglass insulation
  • Natural Fibers


Home DIYs with Asbestos Exposure Risk


As mentioned previously, DIYers are seeking out cost-effective ways to take on projects. While the term encompasses projects as small as crafts, we’ll be focusing on larger home improvement projects. There are many projects that can expose the unprepared homeowner to asbestos. If your house was built before 1989, take a moment to review these risk areas before starting on your project.


Siding Replacement


The first layer of defense your home has against weather elements is the siding, but it also creates an impression of the home's condition. Knowing when to replace your siding depends on if the material is deteriorating and cracks are forming, but you can expect to get between 20-40 years. If you are taking on a siding project, the first thing you should do is find out if you're working with cement asbestos siding shingles or tiles. Asbestos siding is not identifiable by the naked eye, therefore you will need to bring in a home inspector if you think that your house has asbestos-based siding.


Due to the longevity of siding, it’s very possible that homes built in the 1980s still have siding that contains asbestos. If you find that you do have asbestos siding and it is deteriorating, it's best to avoid any close contact and contact an asbestos abatement professional. They will be able to safely remove the toxic siding and communicate when it's safe to continue the DIY siding.


Floor Replacement


Few things compare to how unsettling an old and unlevel floor feels. Since flooring is easily worn and warped over time, many DIYers take on replacing their old flooring as a major DIY project. With a wide variety of flooring options available today like hardwood, porcelain, laminate, etc., putting in beautiful flooring has never been easier or more cost-effective. Before you go in and start tearing up your old floor, be sure to know what materials were used in order to keep yourself safe. Some older flooring, including floor tiles or vinyl flooring, contains asbestos and poses serious health risks to those unprepared when disturbed.


Old vinyl floor tiles and the materials used to create them often contained asbestos. Removing and disturbing these tiles will release the asbestos fibers into the air and put your long-term health at risk. This danger doesn’t end with the vinyl tiles, as the adhesive used to hold them in place also contained asbestos. If you're unsure about the safety of your floor or what's holding it together, have samples of anything you plan to alter tested before moving forward with the project.


Replacing Textured Paint


Relaxing in a freshly painted room will rejuvenate any homeowner. With endless combinations of color and style, any DIYer is sure to let their creativity shine. Unfortunately, asbestos made its way into lots of paint products prior to the 1990s, which means it could still be lingering in your walls or ceilings. One of the most common uses of asbestos in textured paint is known as “popcorn ceilings.”


Popcorn ceilings are generally easy to identify with their bumpy texture, but not every popcorn ceiling contains asbestos. Just like with other areas of the home, you will need to get the material tested if you suspect there is asbestos. In the chance that your ceiling contains hazardous material, removing the popcorn ceiling should be a priority because if it’s disturbed, asbestos fibers will fall into the air and onto any furniture underneath. Again, this project should be handled by an asbestos abatement professional, and the residents will potentially have to leave for a few days if more than one ceiling in the home is contaminated.


Always Play it Safe


Taking on your own home improvement projects is always rewarding and a great way to learn for those less experienced. However, no project is worth neglecting your household’s long-term health when precautions can be taken to avoid asbestos exposure. If you suspect your house may have asbestos still lingering within, always play it safe by having the area in question tested by an asbestos removal professional.


Add Comment

Comments are moderated. Please be patient if your comment does not appear immediately. Thank you.


  1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

Say Hello!