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When Asbestos is Most Dangerous & Where it May Be in Your Home

Our recent posts have focused on exposure to asbestos during demolition and renovation of buildings. In today's post, we'll expand on that topic. Specifically, we'll discuss why demolition can make asbestos exposure especially dangerous and what kinds of building materials asbestos was commonly used in.

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If contained in a solid form, asbestos in the home is relatively (but not completely) safe. That's why asbestos abatement professionals sometimes enclose asbestos rather than removing it outright. The material becomes dangerous, however, when it is in a "friable" state (easily crumbled or flaked). During demolition, asbestos is likely to become friable as building materials are ripped out, cut and smashed. The tiny fibers often become airborne and can be breathed into the lungs or otherwise ingested without the person knowing it.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that asbestos was once commonly used in many home-building materials. As a precaution, OSHA says, people should assume that certain materials contain asbestos if they were installed prior to 1981. These include:

  • Plaster, cement, putties and caulk
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Shingles for both roofing and siding
  • Spray-on ceiling coatings and ceiling tiles
  • Insulation products

Remember that asbestos was prized for its insulating abilities. Therefore, any material that needs to insulate against heat may have included asbestos at one time. If you own an older home, please don't risk your health when it comes to demolition and renovation. Have your home inspected and, if necessary, hire licensed asbestos abatement professionals to remove or contain the dangerous material.

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