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
“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
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.