Asbestos: A hazard you may find in your own home

Asbestos has been used for many industrial and construction purposes in the last several decades. While people know that it’s dangerous and can lead to health problems, asbestos is still being used in the United States today.

Whenever you buy a home or begin feeling unwell from possible asbestos exposure, you need to think about where asbestos may be located. Asbestos may be found:

  • In panels in fire doors
  • Around boilers
  • In cement roofing
  • In loose-fill insulation
  • In plaster compounds
  • In floor tiles and flooring adhesives
  • In electrical wiring casings
  • In asbestos and cement shingles

…and potentially in many other places. You need to know where to look for asbestos, because the illnesses that it can cause are completely preventable.

Does a home’s age matter when looking for asbestos?

Yes. A home that was constructed before 1980 is more likely to have asbestos built into it than in a newer home.

You should know that asbestos is not hazardous unless it’s in the air. For example, if you are removing tiles and break one, that tile could release asbestos fibers into the air. That’s when you have to be most cautious.

Asbestos can also become disturbed in other ways, such as when insulation around furnaces breaks down or when pipes begin to deteriorate.

What should you do if you’ve been exposed to asbestos?

If you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it may be a good idea to go see your general practitioner and to have a check up. This will also give you the chance to note when the exposure took place. If you’re a construction worker or someone else who was exposed to asbestos at work or on a job, make sure you tell your employer, so it can be noted in your files. That way, if you develop an illness later in life, you can look back and see when the exposure was and if it is the cause of your current medical condition.

Asbestos exposure does not always cause mesothelioma, asbestosis or other conditions related to asbestos, but it is possible. The illnesses often take many decades to develop, so don’t forget about this exposure, even if it’s only a one-off event. Seek medical care as soon as you can, so you can know what to expect with your health and so you can identify illnesses related to asbestos exposure if they ever develop in the future.