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The Possible Dangers of Asbestos in Homes

Asbestos and Home Inspections

Asbestos.com and the Mesothelioma Center reached out to me to write a post dealing with asbestos, it’s health implications, and it’s removal. Although the INTERNachi Standards of Practice for Home Inspections do not require licensed home inspectors to report on the presence of asbestos, ethically I believe most home inspectors will alert you to it’s presumed presence if found. I can assure you if I see visible signs of it during my inspections, I’m going to recommend further evaluation of the material by an environmental contractor.

The form of asbestos most commonly seen in homes is comprised of Chrysotile, a member of the Serpentine class of Asbestos. This form of asbestos was used in multiple building materials starting at the end of the 19th century. These materials included, but are not limited to; transite masonry siding, water pipe insulation, HVAC duct and boot connectors, tapes, vinyl floor tiles, attic insulation (zonolite), caulking, popcorn ceilings (acoustical ceilings), etc.

These materials, if in an undisturbed and intact state, are widely believed to not pose a health hazard. But, it’s when these materials are damaged and/or deteriorating (friable) that health implications need to be considered. Fibers are as small as .1 microns thick or 18,000 times thinner than a human hair, and can be easily inhaled. Inhalation of Asbestos fibers is related to lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.

If you discover a material that may contain Asbestos, and the material is in a friable state, contacting an environmental professional is a must. Contacting an environmental professional is just as important if you plan on remodeling an older home. If your home was built prior to 1986, any textured ceiling material should not be altered or removed without first having a professional test it for the presence of asbestos. This rule applies to multiple other remodels that can take place in a home, including but not limited to; removing old vinyl floor tiles, replacing older water distribution pipes that may be insulated, replacing attic insulation, etc.

Helpful Links

More information can be found at this link: https://www.asbestos.com/abatement-guide/

Asbestos Fact Sheet – Stanford Environmental Health & Safety


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