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How should property owners handle asbestos in a building?

Now that spring is here, home owners all across North Carolina may be doing some spring cleaning and planning home repair or construction projects. However, before people start sweeping, repairing, washing, tearing down or building up their property, they may want to remember that there can be a very real risk of asbestos exposure during these projects.

Many older buildings were built or repaired using products that contained asbestos. It may not be common practice today, but until the 1980s or so, asbestos was used in everything from floor tiles to plumbing to insulation. As long as the asbestos is not damaged or disturbed, it poses a relatively low risk to people on the premises. However, when it is disturbed, the fibers are released into the air, posing a serious threat to anyone who breathes in the toxic mineral. 

It can be a good idea for property owners to take some precautions before beginning a deep cleaning or home renovation project in order to minimize the risk of asbestos exposure.

  • Hire a professional to test materials for asbestos if they will be damaged or disturbed during home projects.
  • If materials that contain asbestos are not damaged and are in good condition, leave them alone.
  • Avoid sweeping or dusting near areas where asbestos has been identified as a potential hazard in order to minimize the risk of the fiber being released into the air.
  • Wear gloves, a mask and other protective equipment while working around exposed asbestos.
  • Keep an eye on areas where asbestos is currently intact. If there are signs that the area is getting damaged, restrict access to the area, limit air flow and call an asbestos removal professional.
  • Never try to repair or remove asbestos-containing products on your own. It is essential to hire a professional who is familiar with safe removal and disposal standards.

Dealing with asbestos is something that property owners all across North Carolina may have to do at some point. Those who do so negligently and without complying with state and federal regulations run the risk of putting themselves and others in serious danger of developing an asbestos-related illness. When it comes to asbestos, it is certainly better to be safe than sorry.

Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Asbestos In The Home," accessed March 28, 2014

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