How do you find out if there's asbestos in your home?


Adios Asbestos?

Living with asbestos is a reality for many who reside in older homes, but with containment, covering and sealing -- or encapsulation -- or removal by a professional, the risk of harmful exposure is low [source: EPA]. A joint paper by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Lung Association (ALA) summarizes the health risks as being greatest for those with heavy exposure in factory settings or those involved in demolition work, mining and milling. Those exposed to small amounts in ordinary life are a lot less likely to develop health problems [sources: CPSC, EPA]. In fact, the best thing to do with asbestos material in good condition is to leave it alone [source: CPSC].

Some individuals exposed to asbestos never develop health problems, but as many as 200 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma linked to asbestos in the United States each year [source: EPA]. Lung cancer and asbestosis, which is mostly fatal, is considered a high-exposure outcome for those who breathed in prolonged and significant amounts of asbestos [source: EPA]. And the EPA emphasizes that asbestos-related lung cancer is much lower for the general population and asbestosis is "rarely caused by neighborhood or family exposure" [source: EPA].

Most people in the United States can breathe a sigh of relief that asbestos contact will be minimal if asbestos in their home is left undisturbed or left to the professionals to remove or contain.

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Sources

  • Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). "Asbestos: Health Effects." Centers for Disease Control (CDC). April 1, 2008. (April 17, 2011)http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/asbestos/health_effects/
  • Asbestos.com. "Asbestos Tiles, Ceiling Tiles, Vinyl Floor Tiles." 2011. (April 15, 2011)http://www.asbestos.com/products/general/tiles.php
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). "Asbestos Ban Announced." CPSC.gov. Dec. 2, 1977. (Apr. 13, 2011)http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml77/77118.html
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Lung Association (ALA). "Asbestos in the Home." CPSC Document #453, CPSC.gov. 2011. (Apr. 14, 2011)http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/453.html
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). "Independent Analysis for CPSC Confirms Potential Health Threat Posed by Asbestos Hair Dryers." CPSC.gov. Nov. 2, 1979. (April 17, 2011)http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml79/79062.html
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Asbestos." Britannica.com. 2011. (April 8, 2011)http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/37756/asbestos
  • Howard University School of Law Fair Housing Clinic. "Asbestos." 2011. (April 15, 2011)http://www.howardfairhousing.org/additional_resources/62/410/413/
  • Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "Asbestos: Homeowner Information, Roofing and Siding." 2011. (April 15, 2011)http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/asbestos/homeowner/roofside.html
  • National Cancer Institute. "Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk." 2011. (April 17, 2011)http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/asbestos
  • Princeton University. "Asbestos Fact Sheet." Princeton.edu, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). April 13, 2006. (April 15, 2011)http://web.princeton.edu/sites/ehs/workplacesafety/asbestosfactsheet.htm
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Asbestos." EPA.gov. June 18, 2010. (April 16, 2011)http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Asbestos: General." EPA.gov. April 7, 2011. (April 16, 2011)http://www.epa.gov/region6/6pd/asbestos/asbgenl.htm
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Vermiculite." EPA.gov. June 7, 2010. (April 16, 2011)http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/verm.html
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Asbestos Health Effects." EPA.gov. June 18, 2010. (April 16, 2011)http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/help.html#info
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Asbestos in Your Home." EPA.gov. June 7, 2010. (April 15, 2011)http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ashome.html
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Where You Live: State and Regional Indoor Environments Contact Information." EPA.gov. Nov. 29, 2010. (April 16, 2011)http://www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html
  • Woods, Amy Lamb. "Keeping a Lid on It: Asbestos-Cement Building Materials." Technical Preservation Services, NPS.gov. August 2000. (April 15, 2011)http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/tps/recentpast/asbestosarticle.htm

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