Posts Tagged 'asbestos risks when renovating older homes'

Better Safe Than Sorry

hammer breaking through a wall

Have a Safe Renovation Season

With warmer weather and longer days on their way, many homeowners take advantage of the conditions to start the renovations they have been planning for a while. Whether you choose to handle the remodel on your own or opt for professional help, there’s one safety issue that should stay at the front of your mind: asbestos.

If a home was built before the 1980s, it may contain asbestos-contaminated construction products. Renovations may accidentally release asbestos into the air. If inhaled, these fibers can lead to serious diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Once diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, the survival rates are typically low.

On the bright side, it’s certainly possible to complete home renovations without creating any asbestos exposure hazards. Because no new kitchen or bathroom is worth a serious health risk, it’s important to take several safety precautions during the process.

How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure During Home Renovations

We know you’re excited to give your home some changes – but don’t be so excited that you overlook necessary safety measures.

These four steps can help you safely renovate your home:

  • Before touching anything, get a professional inspection. You can’t spot asbestos with your naked eye. That’s why it’s essential to have a trained asbestos inspection team take samples of potentially contaminated products, then have them tested in a laboratory. It doesn’t take long, it’s more affordable than you think, and in a best-case scenario, you won’t have to make any adjustments to your remodeling plan.
  • Develop an action plan. If the inspection does reveal asbestos in your home, you’ll need to develop an action plan for each contaminated item. Sometimes this plan is as simple as “leave it alone and tell all members of the home not to disturb it.” However, if the fibers are loose, this plan needs to be more extensive. If an asbestos-containing product in your home is friable (loose), an abatement company will need to come out and seal it off or replace it.
  • Renovate with caution. Even the most basic of construction activities has the potential to release asbestos from a contaminated product. Sawing through walls, tearing up carpet, cutting drywall and replacing tiles can all release asbestos into the air. Never perform construction on any materials that you know contain asbestos, and always have an abatement team address any threats before you begin renovations. If you hire a professional remodeling crew, make sure they’re certified to handle asbestos.
  • Choose asbestos-free home remodeling materials. Sad to say, but asbestos isn’t banned in the United States – even though it’s a known carcinogen. Roofing materials, vinyl tiles, home insulation products, and even potting soils can still contain the fibers. To keep your home free from the toxin, be sure to purchase products from brands that use alternatives.

If you follow these guidelines, you can enjoy your newly remodeled rooms without the stress of an asbestos exposure threat. However, if other experiences in your life have brought you in contact with the fibers, we can help. Our organization offers free information and patient advocate services; if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we can work one on one with you to help you find local doctors, treatment centers and support groups.

Faith Franz is a researcher and writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She advocates for alternative medicine and encourages cancer patients to explore all of their treatment options.

Pipes covered with asbestos

Years ago, it was common practice to insulate heating pipes in basements with asbestos. Have you seen pipes like these in your home?

Advertisements

Dangers of Exposure to Asbestos During Home Renovations

This week, Kitchen Views has a guest blogger. Brian Turner is a health advocate and blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, the type of cancer which comes from exposure to asbestos. Where many homeowners are planning renovations to older homes which could contain asbestos, we feel that this information is highly relevant to you.

The article below is about the health and safety concerns that one should keep in mind while doing home renovations or DIY projects, and how exposure to certain materials, such as asbestos, can cause harm to yourself and family members.

“Dangers of Home Renovations and Exposure to Asbestos” by Brian Turner

Home design trends have come and gone through the years. Some facets of a home, however, are constant. Homes need great insulation, and electrical insulation is crucial for safety. A number of materials have proven to be highly effective at maintaining a home’s temperature, and some has risen and fallen in popularity through the years. One material, asbestos, served as a primary means to insulate homes for decades. Unfortunately, asbestos has proven to cause severe health problems and even death.

In many older homes it was common at one time to use asbestos to insulate heating pipes. If you have this type of insulation on heating pipes that will be disturbed during home renovation, you must have it removed properly with appropriate safeguards.

Popular even through the middle of the 20th century, asbestos had been linked to health problems since its use by the Greeks. A lack of rigorous testing, however, left these health problems largely ignored by regulatory agencies. Some blame various factors for its sustained popularity, but asbestos remained popular far longer than it should have. Today, there is no dispute that asbestos causes mesothelioma, a highly dangerous form of cancer that can arise in individuals who have not been exposed to asbestos in decades.

Asbestos is still used in many homes today. Fortunately, asbestos does not present a risk if it is properly sealed. Many homeowners decided to seal their asbestos securely instead of replacing it, and it does not present a risk if it is properly contained. Those looking to perform home renovations, however, will need to be cautious if they suspect that their homes have asbestos.

Newly built homes are generally safe to renovate. Older homes, however, should be thoroughly inspected before proceeding. All homeowners who did not originally build their homes are strongly encouraged to ask for a professional inspection before moving forward with any renovations. While inspectors will look for asbestos, it never hurts to emphasize that you would like him or her to specifically check for it. These inspections also serve other purposes, and they can help learn about problems that will be easier to fix while the home is being renovated.

Ultimately, asbestos is a substance that merits extreme caution. Limited exposure has been linked to severe health problems and mesothelioma, and families risk jeopardizing the health of their children if they do not exercise sufficient caution. Inspections are quick and affordable, and the peace of mind is well worth the small expense.

Renovations should be an exciting time; changing and improving a home can be a wonderful experience. The threat of asbestos, however, can make renovations needlessly stressful. Be sure to exercise caution when beginning a major renovation to ensure that you, your family and the workers you hire are protected from the threats posed by asbestos.

Brian Turner
Health Advocate/Blogger
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

For more information, you may email Brian at brian.turner752@gmail.com

Below are several informational links about asbestos from the EPA:

http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-concerns.html

http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ashome.html 

http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,056 other followers

Twitter Updates

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: