Labor Day was celebrated earlier this week. And although the day is meant to be a day of rest in honor of the American labor movement, many people choose to use the long weekend as a chance to catch up on household projects.
Countless homeowners did yard work, cleaned out the garage or worked on renovation projects in their homes. If you were one of them, did you first check to see that your home is free of asbestos? Homes built later than 1990 are very unlikely to have any insulation or other building materials that contain asbestos. For homes built before then, however, the risks are higher.
A recent news report from Australia warns that country's citizens about the risks of asbestos exposure for do-it-yourselfers. Homeowners doing their own demolition and renovation work could be exposing themselves and their families to asbestos without realizing it.
Although the story was from Australia, the warning applies to Americans as well. Sometimes, homeowners were not told about the presence of asbestos when buying a home. In other cases, asbestos that had been safely contained in the home could become friable (easily crumbled) when demolition begins. Asbestos is most dangerous in its friable form because it can become airborne and be inhaled into the lungs.
If you have an older home and are planning to renovate, please hire a qualified asbestos inspector before making any changes - just as you would hire an inspector to check for termites or the presence of radon gas. Paying some reasonable, upfront costs now could save you a lot of money (and danger) later on.