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Be diligent when dealing with asbestos in your home

Emily Walsh Community Outreach Director Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
Be diligent when dealing with asbestos in your home

According to the EPA, over 30 million homes in the United States still contain some traces of asbestos. Asbestos, which can also be found in office buildings and schools, is considered dangerous and can cause many harmful diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Find out the issues that asbestos pose, and the best way to detect and solve asbestos problems near you.


Do

Do educate yourself on asbestos and health risks

Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used in building materials due to it’s excellent fire-resistant properties. The important thing to remember about asbestos is that when it is properly enclosed and installed in your property, there is no health risk. However, when asbestos becomes airborne, it becomes very dangerous to breath in. Exposure to asbestos fibers has since been discovered to cause serious health risks such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. 

Do ask about potential asbestos when moving

Whether you’re a current owner or renter of a property or moving into a new one, you should always ask your realtor or landlord if the home contains asbestos. As mentioned previously, even if the asbestos is properly installed and not a problem at the current time, it can very easily become one as the home wears down in the future.

Do be cognizant of any potential asbestos situation

Knowing areas of your property that contain asbestos is important so you can keep a close eye on those areas throughout the years. All it takes is one crack in a wall or pipe to expose asbestos to the open air and make exposure possible in your home.

Do get your property tested for asbestos

If you think there is asbestos present on your property, the best course of action is to get your home inspected by a professional. The professional inspector will be able to test the levels of asbestos in your home and determine whether it’s possible you’ve been exposed to asbestos. They can also get you in touch with an asbestos abatement specialist in order to have your home ridden of all asbestos.

Do see a doctor instantly if you think you were exposed to asbestos

If you think you have been exposed to asbestos either in your workplace, school, or home, it is best to visit your doctor to get examined. Sadly, the symptoms of diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis can take years to show, which make these diseases hard to detect. Early detection can be key to treatment, which means even if you’re unsure if you were fully exposed to asbestos, it is best to bring it up to your doctor for yearly checks. There are over 5,500 annual deaths due to mesothelioma between the U.S. and U.K. each year.


Don't

Do not do renovations or demolitions on your property

It is not smart to just start renovations or demolitions without being aware of potential asbestos living in your home. Just knocking down a wall with asbestos in it can cause serious health risks for all workers on the site and potentially to neighbors of the project as well. Do your research and find out if you need asbestos removed before starting a project.

Do not ignore asbestos completely

Even if asbestos is in your home but not considered a problem now, that doesn’t mean that it won’t become a problem in the future. Houses, like most things, wear down over time and that means asbestos in your property can become exposed to the open and cause health problems for yourself and your family.

Do not handle or remove asbestos

You should never remove asbestos on your own. It is very dangerous and can directly cause cancer and other health conditions. As mentioned, the best option is to first get your property tested for asbestos by a professional.

Do not handle asbestos without wearing proper equipment

eneral masks and clothing will not protect you from asbestos exposure. Professionals have to wear full HAZMAT suits and respirators to remove asbestos. The failure to secure yourself with these protective measures can result in dangerous health conditions.
 

Do not forget to have your property re-evaluated after removal

Even after the removal of asbestos, it is important to get your home re-evaluated to make sure there are no leftover traces of asbestos up to EPA standard in the air on your property.


Summary
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Asbestos is a hidden problem that most property owners do not think about when owning or renting. When it becomes disturbed, it can cause a variety of health problems down the line such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma cancer. Asbestos fibers are very small in nature and become easily inhaled and lodged in the lung. Many older homes and buildings still contain asbestos today and as they wear down over time, the asbestos in these buildings will become exposed. It is important for the general public to stay informed on asbestos so when problems arise, safe inspection and removal can take place. 


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Photo Credits: oatsy40 by House via Flickr; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Emily WalshCommunity Outreach Director

Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Director at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Her role is to connect the alliance in different relevant online communities in order to help raise awareness around the dangers that asbestos still poses today ...

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