If your home predates the year 2000, it could contain asbestos building materials. Widely used in the construction of homes and buildings during the 20th century, asbestos has since been linked with causing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. So before you take on that new construction or renovation project this year, make sure you know how to handle any pre-existing asbestos in your home to keep you—and your workers—safe:
Where Asbestos Is Found
You may not realise it, but there’s a good chance that your house contains more than one asbestos building product. Asbestos was once a popular means of insulating and fireproofing new buildings, so loose asbestos may be found in lofts, wall cavities, and floor cavities, as well as in painted over pipe lagging that helps to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter months. Asbestos-reinforced resin composite materials were often used in toilet cisterns, while asbestos cement was used to make roof gutters, down pipers, and water tanks in home constructed prior to the 1980s. Other asbestos products to keep an eye out for come in the form of wall panelling, textured coatings for ceilings, door gaskets, roofing, shingles, siding, and vinyl and thermoplastic floor tiles. Even the tile backing could contain asbestos paper.
How to Stay Safe
Building materials that contain asbestos may look identical to those that don’t, making them impossible to detect with the naked eye. For this reason, it is imperative that you hire a trained and qualified professional to take samples from your home for analysis. After reviewing the samples under a microscope, the fibre expert will be able to tell you where asbestos lies in your home and how much there is. This analysis should be carried out prior to your scheduled home renovation.
If asbestos is found in your home, don’t panic. Asbestos products are generally considered to be non-threatening as long as they are left undisturbed in your home. Qualified professionals can help you label and monitor the asbestos-containing products so that they are not disturbed during your scheduled renovation project.
If any asbestos materials are found to have been compromised, they may pose a major risk to your health. Do not try to handle these materials on your own. They should be confiscated by licensed asbestos professionals who wear special protective clothing and respirators to keep themselves safe of breathing in the toxic fibres. Depending on the scope of the project, you may need to temporarily evacuate your home to ensure to reduce your risk of exposure. Symptoms of asbestos exposure may not develop for decades, but if you or someone you know has suffered from an asbestos-related illness as a result of exposure, file an asbestos claim today.