What should you do if you think you have found asbestos in your home? The first rule of thumb is this: don’t touch it. If you disturb asbestos you run the risk of releasing the fibers into the air. This is dangerous because it is the fibers that cause the most dangerous side effects of the pesky substance. In many instances, asbestos-containing materials in the home or office structure do not cause concern. If the material is undamaged and exhibits no signs of deterioration, it can often be left in place without causing harm to humans or pets.
Let’s say you have internal asbestos cement sheet walls or floor tiles that are in good condition. If those substances are properly sealed (i.e. with a coat of paint or finishing material) then there is a decreased health risk. It is only when damage occurs that can cause asbestos dust to be released into the air that major health risks increase. We know the “watch and wait” approach can sound counter-intuitive because most information about asbestos highlights the dangers of the substance. But, even if building materials in your home or office are contaminated with undisturbed asbestos, the safest option is to leave it alone.
If your home or office has any building material you think may contain asbestos that has been disturbed, however, it is time to call an asbestos removal professional. There are some ways the untrained homeowner or property owner can detect for asbestos. Visually inspecting your property from time to time is one way to determine if you need to call in a professional. We realize that it is better to be safe than sorry so we encourage anyone who has any questions about asbestos removal to contact us.
If you are confident moving ahead with making the determination yourself before placing a call, please consider the following:
- Is the area in good condition (i.e. undamaged)? Can you leave it alone and not be worried about potential health risks?
- Are you aware of the alternatives to removing the asbestos-contaminated material (i.e. painting or sealing the area or covering it with a non-asbestos product)?
- Can you comply with the laws and safety procedures for working with asbestos? If not, can you contact a reputable company to do so for you?
If you are attempting to handle or work with asbestos it is important to remember:
- Not to use power tools to disturb the materials
- Not to use abrasive cutting or sanding discs that may release asbestos dust into the air
- Not to use compressed air or high-pressure hoses
- Not to leave asbestos-contaminated material in walkway areas where it can be easily stepped on or crushed by moving vehicles
- Do hire a reputable company to test areas of suspected asbestos contamination
- Do ensure you or any contractor you hire handles asbestos in well-ventilated areas
- Do make sure that any area of asbestos removal is thoroughly and continuously wet down during work to reduce the release of fibers and dust
Even though it may be fun to tackle do-it-yourself projects, asbestos removal is best left to the professionals.
Remember: undisturbed asbestos poses a little health risk as long as the materials stay intact. However, once the materials have been compromised in any way, it is better to be safe than sorry. Because the health risks associated with handling asbestos can be devastating, it is a safer move to hire professionals to ensure the job is done properly and to EPA standards.
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