December 15, 2013

The Dangers of Asbestos and How to Protect Your Family

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was once used in homes, building, products, equipment, and machinery for its natural ability to withstand fire and extremely hot temperatures. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used heavily in residential homes prior to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulating its use. The regulations came after years of research and study, which confirmed that asbestos is the leading cause of harmful diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. Many asbestos disease victims are now taking legal action against asbestos companies.

If you live in a home that was built prior to the early 1980s, there is a possibility that your home was built using ACMs. It’s crucial to understand the dangers of asbestos and how to protect your family from disturbing it.

Asbestos Dangers in the Home

Many appliances, particularly furnaces, were heavily riddled with asbestos during the manufacturing phase. As previously mentioned, the fire and heat-resistant properties made asbestos a popular choice prior to the mandated regulations of its use. Even though regulations were set forth to limit the use of asbestos, the millions of homes and appliances that were made using asbestos were not destroyed or banned. In fact, there are a multitude of asbestos containing public school buildings, churches, and libraries that are still in use today. Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has federal laws in place to help promote safety in public buildings should asbestos become disturbed.

As long as asbestos remains undisturbed, there usually is no alam for concern. However, if you live in an older home, make sure that your kids don’t roughhouse or play anywhere near appliances or other areas and products that may contain asbestos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical products that may contain asbestos include pipes, insulation, ceiling caulk, joint compounds, and vinyl flooring.

In addition to the home, children should never play around or in any old sheds or abandoned buildings. Although these structures may seem exciting for kids, there is a chance that airborne asbestos fibers are hovering around. It’s easy to inhale these fibers, yet it’s almost impossible to remove them from your system. Since most signs of asbestos-related diseases don’t surface until several decades after asbestos exposure, you won’t be able to tell if your children have accidentally inhaled asbestos fibers until its much too late.

If You Think Your Home Has Asbestos

There isn’t a way to spot asbestos with the naked eye, so if you have an older home, it’s absolutely imperative to seek out a qualified asbestos technician before you begin any repairs or renovations on your home. Even something as minor as sweeping up dust around a broken furnace may stir up asbestos fibers. If you have a broken appliance, close off the area until it can be checked out by a state-certified asbestos professional.

Inform everyone in your family about the dangers of working and/or playing around asbestos, but do not panic. In most cases, asbestos can be encapsulated and disposed of properly without incident as long as proper precautions are made.

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