Test Your Home for your Family's Health

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural fibrous mineral product with high tensile strength and high heat resistance and high resistance to most chemicals. For these reasons, asbestos was used in many home products, such as ceiling tiles, floor tiles, insulation, and roof shingles.

In the heating and air conditioning trade, asbestos was widely used in underground duct systems, and as a duct joint sealer and a heat shield, by both heating equipment manufacturers and by field technicians during system installation.

Although the numbers are dwindling, we still find many homes which have asbestos attached to their duct systems.

The health risks from asbestos exposure

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to high incident levels of lung cancer. The greater the exposure to asbestos particulates, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects, especially in smokers.

Amongst some other tradesmen, hvac technicians and installers, have had high death rates associated with asbestos exposure. Symptoms of exposure may take many years to develop. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed, consult a pulmonologist.

When breathing airborne asbestos fibers, the particulates embed themselves in the lining of the lungs. The human body cannot expel these fibers, therefore, prolonged exposure increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.

I have asbestos in my home!

If you find asbestos in your home, leave it alone if it is in good condition. Disturbing asbestos containing materials can make the particulates airborne, which creates a breathing hazard. Have your home checked by an asbestos remediation specialist. Before a major home remodel is a great time to check for any asbestos products present in the home.

If you find suspected damaged or deteriorating asbestos materials, isolate the area. Do not disturb the material, or walk around the area, which may kick up particulates into your breathing air. Keep children and pets away, and immediately call a specialist.

Asbestos may not always need to be removed, but may be able to be enclosed or encapsulated. Removal or encapsulation by an asbestos remediation professional is often the best solution for your family's health.

Identify asbestos on my heating system

Often an asbestos containing tape was used on duct joints to seal them. The material was white, with a heavily textured surface. Also a white asbestos board was often used as a heat barrier between wood members and ducts or gas vent pipes.

Safety is the best policy, if you intend to live in a home where asbestos is suspected. A remediation specialist will not charge you much, if he comes to your home and gives your home a good bill of health.

3 major health problems associated with asbestos exposure

Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a progressive, long-term non-cancer scarring of the lung tissues after prolonged asbestos exposure. The scarring of the lung walls inhibits oxygen getting into the blood stream. Some symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, and a crackling sound in the lungs during inhalation. There is no cure or effective treatment for asbestosis.

Lung Cancer: Common symptoms of asbestos caused lung cancer are a persistent cough, or a change in breathing, shortness of breath, persistent chest pain, hoarseness, and anemia. This disease is mostly found among those who are involved in the manufacture or installation of asbestos products.

Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer of which almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos. Historically, the disease does not rear it's ugly head until many years after exposure. This cancer is found in the membrane of the lungs, heart, abdomen, and chest.

Read more about Asbestos Exposure from the EPA

For more in-depth information:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

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