Should I Be Worried About Asbestos Exposure?

Dangerous asbestos roof. The word asbestos written with letters whose graphic resembles the shape of the asbestos particles.

I grew up in an old house that was built in the 40s or 50s, and I am always worried that I may have been exposed to asbestos. I know that asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, but I also know that it can take decades for the cancer to actually form.

My concern is that I may have been exposed to asbestos when I was growing up. My parents still live in the home, and I would like to limit their exposure as much as I can.

Do you have any recommendations on what I can do to help my parents?

Your home may have asbestos in it, or someone may have removed the asbestos once news of the dangers was released to the public. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, there’s nothing you can do to remove the fibers from your lungs. It’s really a wait-and-see scenario.

“Sources of asbestos in the home include tiles, insulation, and other building materials. These were often made with asbestos. In fact, many buildings made before 1980 have a higher risk of asbestos. The material was frequently used in roofing shingles, pipes, boilers, cement, and more. If a home contains asbestos, it is important to contact an abatement professional to remove the material safely,” explains Vogelzang Law.

The good news is that if you haven’t disturbed the asbestos, it’s not going to cause you any serious health issues.

The fibers are usually kept tucked away in the walls of the home, so unless you start any major renovations, there’s little risk that you have been exposed to these fibers.

What you can do is have someone come out to the home and test the air quality. These tests will check for asbestos in the air, and if there is no asbestos floating around, that’s a good thing.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t call for asbestos abatement. When abatement is performed, a professional will come to the home, using all of the latest techniques, and remove the asbestos. The person will use techniques, which often include soaking the asbestos material, so that the fibers do not enter the air during removal.

The professional will also test the air quality to determine if any asbestos fibers have entered the air after abatement. If fibers are present, additional services may be needed to clear the air of all asbestos fibers.

It’s a costly process, but it’s the best way to ensure that the home is completely free of asbestos.

If you notice that any insulation is coming off of pipes or plan on renovating the home, call in a professional to assess the situation. Even sanding of tiles that were created using asbestos can lead to the fibers entering the air and eventually into your lungs.

Past asbestos exposure led to 40,000 deaths in the US alone in 2016 and over 2,700 in the UK. You should make the dangers of the material known to your family, and you should know that short-term exposure isn’t an immediate death sentence. Exposure is cumulative, so unless extreme exposure occurs, your risks of serious health issues in the future are minimal.

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