Asbestos is a group of fibrous building materials that is frequently used in older home construction. Over time, experts have learned that asbestos is carcinogenic and should not be used in homebuilding. However, many homes created before the effects of asbestos were explored still have these carcinogens. Because of the risks asbestos brings to homes and residents, homeowners should be on the lookout for six main warning signs of asbestos.
1 – The Age of Your Home
Asbestos was commonly used in the mid-to-late 1900s in home construction. In 1989, however, the government banned new production and use of asbestos in American homes. However, if your home is built prior to 1989, this is a warning sign that asbestos may have been used. Homes built between 1940-1970 are of the highest risk.
2 – Visible Fibers
Oftentimes, asbestos can be seen in visible fibers from your ceilings, walls, and insulation. Visible fibers can also be seen in vinyl tile flooring. Asbestos can appear in many colors, but when breaking down, it often appears fluffy. While most homeowners cannot identify asbestos without being trained, suspicious dust, insulation, or particles should be warning signs of asbestos in the home.
3 – Unusual Odor
If asbestos has been dislodged during home remodeling or deconstruction, homeowners can often smell wood rot or chemical-like smells. While asbestos itself does not have a smell, you should check for other signs of asbestos if a home remodel is paired with unusual odors.
4 – Unusual Dust
If you are noticing an unusual amount of dust on surfaces in your home, this is a warning sign of asbestos. When homes have large amounts of asbestos in their walls or ceilings, often there is a larger production of dust. If you encounter dust you believe is asbestos in your home, you should not vacuum or sweep the debris. Instead, it is recommended to use a wet mop to remove any suspicious debris to avoid recirculating asbestos particles into the air. It is best to avoid disturbing particles and instead seek professional help in removing asbestos.
5 – A Deteriorating Home
Asbestos particles are known to slowly cause damage to home structures and construction materials. Homes that contain asbestos may show signs of deterioration or damage. This can look like cracked or damaged insulation, peeling paint, or cracked or patchy drywall. These signs are often the first to appear because asbestos was used most commonly in paint, insulation, and floor tiles.
6 – Some Health Issues
Homeowners who have breathed asbestos fibers over an extended period of time may experience related health issues. Asbestosis, or asbestos poisoning, is a serious disease that is associated with prolonged exposure to asbestos. This disease attacks lung functioning and is often associated with a persistent cough, weight loss, shortness of breath, and other lung-related symptoms. While not everyone exposed to asbestos will experience health concerns, prolonged lung symptoms remain a warning sign of asbestos in the home. Those exposed to asbestos are at a higher risk for mesothelioma and lung cancer. The production of asbestos-containing materials can have a considerable environmental impact, particularly when it comes to the disposal and safe handling of these materials.