Asbestos Awareness in the Home

The following article courtesy of Marvin Leininger, National Awareness Director,
Mesothelioma Center at

Asbestos Awareness in the Home

Regular home inspections are important for all homeowners because they help you to discover the presence of safety hazards, maintenance issues or toxins like asbestos. Being aware of these dangers in your home provides you an opportunity to fix the issue, making the home a better place to live or an easier property to sell.

In order to address any existing problems like asbestos contaminants, you must first understand where it is located, whether it poses a hazard to the home’s occupants, and how it should be removed and replaced. Traditional home inspectors can assist with some of this process.

Where It Is Found

is a naturally occurring mineral commonly found in more than , including: flooring and ceiling materials, attic insulation, roof shingles, windows, tiling, pipe covering, furnace cement, door gaskets, fire brick and more. Long-term exposure to asbestos can be detrimental to the health of those who inhale the fibers.

Common locations of asbestos within the home include:

  • Roofs
  • Attics
  • Basements
  • Walls
  • Flooring
  • Ceilings

The prevalence of asbestos in homes and household products peaked around 1973 as more scientific research showed its connections to multiple diseases and . Homes and products made before 1970s are more likely to contain asbestos than later products.

Asbestos Abatement

Asbestos is not often visible to the naked eye and therefore may require professional testing. If the hazardous substance is identified in the home, it will need to be professionally removed through a process known as asbestos abatement.

In some cases, the material may not need to be removed if it is properly encapsulated or enclosed and does not pose risk of exposure. In this instance, attempting to remove it may actually cause more problems than simply leaving it in place.

Abatement companies typically perform the actual removal process but home inspectors are capable of identifying the existence of asbestos and can help with finding qualified removal professionals.

Asbestos Alternatives

To reduce the dangers posed by asbestos, homeowners can utilize substitute products that perform the same function, without the detriment to health. Some replacement products include:

  • Polyurethane foam
  • Amorphous silica fabric
  • Thermoset plastic flour
  • Flour fillers
  • Cellulose fibers

These alternatives provide similar heat-resistant and insulating properties found in asbestos without the health hazards. Many of these substitute products can be found at common home improvement stores.