Asbestos is a material that many of us have heard about in the news. The inhalation of asbestos fibers has been linked to a cancer called mesothelioma. To know whether or not your home contains asbestos, it is first important to recognize where asbestos can be found in the home. The two most common places associated with asbestos in the home is in insulation and the acoustic ceiling treatments popular between 1960 and 1980. Beyond the dated look of acoustic or “popcorn” ceilings, many clients will express their concern regarding the safety of the material and whether or not it should be removed. Not all acoustic ceilings contain asbestos. To find out whether or not the home contains asbestos, it is best to contact a local professional that can inspect, sample, and test for asbestos. Local information about asbestos specific to the San Jose environment can be found on the Asbestos.com web site. To understand more about the potential health issues related to asbestos and mesothelioma, colleagues Brian Turner and Jack Bleaker at Mesothelioma.com offer some great information on their web site and also have offered this quick overview:
Homeowners Should Be Aware of Asbestos Hazards
As a new homeowner or potential seller, it is not likely that you are acquainted with the inner materials of a home. However, most buyers seek an updated home inspection before closing on a new property. It is important to reassure buyers that the home is safe and does not contain any potential health hazards. These inspections are critical to clearing hurdles down the road that may slow the sale of property.
One of the most common surprises new homeowners and sellers confront is asbestos in older structures. Indeed, asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are now banned for use in the United States but many older buildings still contain these products, which are generally safe, but homeowners should be aware of where they are and when they become hazardous.
Asbestos was included in thousands of construction products and still exists in nearly 80% of homes built prior to 1978. Common asbestos materials include attic insulation, ceiling tiles, and pipe lining. Asbestos was particularly adept at insulation and prevention of temperature transfer and was used extensively until adverse health effects began to manifest in those who worked with the material frequently.
It is only when asbestos containing materials are compromised or very old that they become hazardous. Asbestos products under these conditions are rendered “friable.” Home inspection companies should be able to identify these circumstances and advise you on a course of action. When asbestos material is friable, asbestos fibers can be released into the air, potentially endangering those in the area.
Inhaled asbestos fibers lodge in the body’s inner tissue and have been conclusively linked to the rare cancer, mesothelioma, commonly referred to as asbestos cancer, in addition to many other respiratory disorders. There are few options for mesothelioma treatment or curative therapies for other conditions caused by sustained asbestos exposures. Homeowners need to be aware of potential hazards that may exist so they may be able to avoid potentially harmful effects of hazardous asbestos.
Again, most asbestos containing materials will not pose an immediate hazard and an informed buyer will not be turned off by their presence if they’re reassured of their safety by a professional opinion. These simple precautions can be taken to assure that both sides know that they and their families will be happy and healthy in their new home.
If you are in the process of buying or selling a home, please take an extra step of education in regards to the potential sources of asbestos in the home. The remedy can be simpler than you might think.