Asbestos is a highly toxic, naturally occurring mineral linked to serious respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Before the 1980s, when its dangers became more widespread, it was the ideal material for residential construction because of its heat resistance properties and strength. It was found everywhere and is still in many older homes and buildings. It is mixed into cement, in roofing insulation, and beneath floor tiles.
If you live in a home built before the mid-1980s, chances are high that asbestos is all around you.
Common construction products containing asbestos include:
- Adhesives (flooring, wallpaper, HVAC systems, stoves, etc.)
- Insulation (attics, ceilings, walls, and basements)
- Asbestos sheets (roofing and siding, along with interior walls and ceiling materials)
- Ductwork connectors (floor cavities, crawl spaces, attached garages, and attics)
- Floor backing (tiles, vinyl floors, linoleum, sheet flooring, floor adhesives)
There is no reason to panic, though, since asbestos is relatively harmless if left encapsulated and undisturbed. It becomes deadly when its toxic fibers enter the air. Once inhaled, they become trapped in the respiratory tract and lungs. And this is where they may stay for life, leading to scarring and inflammation — and in some cases — cancer.
Each year, approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma. This rare cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure. This aggressive cancer often requires equally aggressive cancer treatment. An estimated 10,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases. From 1999 to 2013, more than 300 Arkansas residents died from mesothelioma. In most cases, these serious conditions don’t arise until decades after first exposure. This is called the latency period.
Typical reasons for asbestos exposure within the home:
- Regular home construction or repairs
- Natural disasters or inclement weather that cause damage to roofs, walls or floors
Additionally, common asbestos products, such as adhesive materials and sealants, can break down over time.
Handling and removing asbestos is a dangerous task that must be performed with caution. This is why certified asbestos abatement professionals are highly recommended. Hiring certified inspectors is key. Most importantly, the inspectors must be hazardous material specialists which makes identifying asbestos-containing construction materials and removing the materials safely and minimizes health risks.
If you plan renovations or major construction to an area of your home you suspect may contain asbestos materials, consult abatement professionals before beginning renovations.
NWA Restore It, Inc. prides itself for being Northwest Arkansas’ HAZMAT experts. Along with asbestos inspection, we are certified in methamphetamine lab decontamination, lead paint removal, and crime scene cleanup of bloodborne pathogens. Our team of professionals makes removing hazardous materials from your home as painless, cost-effective, and safe as possible.