Asbestos, now known to be a carcinogen, was once widely used in construction. If your house was built before 1975, there’s a chance you have this poison in your home. An inexpensive and effective insulant and fire-retardant, asbestos was used primarily as pipe insulation and in basement boilers, though some homes contain far more asbestos than others.
TYPES OF ASBESTOS
The asbestos in your home may be in one of two states, friable or non-friable. Friable asbestos has crumbled into a powder whose fibers become airborne. Asbestos in this state is hazardous, and prolonged exposure is extremely unhealthy.
Non-friable asbestos is bound to, or within, another construction material. Asbestos in this state is far less likely to become airborne and cause health issues, so it may not need to be removed immediately. It’s essential to keep an eye on non-friable asbestos, though, as damage and even everyday wear may cause it to become friable.
LOOKING FOR ASBESTOS
Unfortunately, asbestos fibers can’t be identified by sight. They must be analyzed in a laboratory, using one of two government-approved methods: Transmission Electron Microscopy or Polarized Light Microscopy.
Suppose you’ve discovered a fibrous material in your home that you suspect may be asbestos. In that case, you can find a laboratory that performs asbestos identification on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s website. The Environmental Protection Agency can provide you directions on how to gather fibers for testing.
When asbestos fibers become airborne, they are inhaled and settle deep in the lungs. Prolonged exposure can result in a variety of severe health issues, including pulmonary fibrosis lung disease. Asbestos also alters the lining of the chest cavity. These effects to the chest and lungs can result in diminished respiratory function, or worse.
Asbestos exposure can also result in mesothelioma and lung cancer, both of which are often fatal.
Removing asbestos is a dangerous job and should only ever be done by duly licensed and insured professionals. The removal process causes asbestos fibers to be released into the air, and so a HEPA vacuum is required for cleanup. Disposable clothing should be worn by anyone removing asbestos from your house.
COST OF REMOVAL
The cost of asbestos removal varies greatly depending on the size of the job. Most asbestos removal companies will charge at least $1500 no matter how small the job. A house with asbestos in the pipes, boiler, walls, foundation, basement, and attic could cost as much as $30,000 to clean properly.
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