Why You Should Not DIY: Risk of Asbestos Removal

In order to make sure that your home is asbestos-free, you shouldn’t by any means try to tackle this serious issue yourself. Doing so can create even more damage and is not advisable. If you’re suspecting that there might be asbestos present in your home and are thinking of dealing with this problem yourself, read this before you have any asbestos-containing materials in your home removed or repaired.

Why You Should Not DIY: Risk of Asbestos Removal

What is asbestos?

A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is present in rocks and soil. It has long and strong fibers and it’s often praised due to its heat-resistant properties, which is why it’s been used in the past as a construction material for insulation of residential and commercial buildings. Identifiable only under a microscope, asbestos is different from any other material – it’s indestructible and does not decompose or decay. In addition to being heatproof, asbestos is also resistant to water and chemicals. Although most of the products nowadays do not contain this mineral, asbestos is still present in older homes and buildings.

Where is asbestos found?

A majority of houses built before the 1980s were constructed using materials that contain asbestos due to its insulating and fire-resistant properties. That means that there were some common products that contained asbestos and may still be present in older homes. Floor and ceiling tiles as well as the adhesive used to install them might have contained asbestos, and sanding or scraping them during the removal may release fibers into the air which can be health-hazardous. Most products available on the market today do not contain asbestos, and if they do, they’re required to be labeled as such in order to prevent inhalation of this mineral.

What is the impact of asbestos on our health?

Asbestos exposure leads to an increased risk of developing a number of serious diseases such as lung cancer. People who work with asbestos and who are frequently exposed to high levels of this mineral are at higher risk of getting asbestosis, and in case the person inhaling asbestos is a smoker, the risk of developing lung cancer is even higher. Consequently, breathing high levels of asbestos fibers leads to a reduction in the respiratory function and as such, can often be fatal. A majority of people are exposed to asbestos in their everyday lives. However, exposure to smaller concentrations of asbestos will not cause you to develop these serious health problems.

Why You Should Not DIY: Risk of Asbestos Removal

What measures can you take to prevent health issues?

If you’re suspecting that there are asbestos-containing materials in your living space, consult with a professional first to make sure whether asbestos is actually present in your home. Since the biggest issue with asbestos is actually breathing it in, materials that may contain asbestos aren’t necessarily deemed to be health hazardous. If those materials are intact and aren’t damaged in any way, asbestos won’t pose any health risks to you and your household. Asbestos is only health hazardous when tiny fibers of this mineral become airborne, which could happen during renovations or remodeling. The best thing to do is to call in a professional who is trained to handle asbestos. They will take samples and repair or remove it, so you can rest assured that everything is done properly.

Why You Should Not DIY: Risk of Asbestos Removal

Why should you opt for professional asbestos removal?

While some homeowners are eager to DIY everything to save some money, asbestos removal is a risky DIY project. Whether the repair is minor or major, it still presents an issue that should only be tackled by an asbestos-trained professional. Improper handling of asbestos by an untrained professional is dangerous since it may create a health hazard where none existed before handling the asbestos-containing materials. While repair is a cheaper way to eliminate asbestos, it can make the removal process more difficult in later stages. Even though removal is more complex, if the asbestos damage is so big it’s irreparable, it may be the only option you have in order to remove any health risks asbestos may pose for your home.

Although not health hazardous when left intact, asbestos can lead to serious health issues when asbestos fibers are released from damaged materials. If after a professional asbestos inspection your home turns out to be contaminated with asbestos, hire a corrective-action contractor who will handle asbestos safely, eliminating the potential health risks that come with the presence of asbestos.

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Derek Lotts

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