Asbestos Frequently Asked Questions
Asbestos is a mineral fiber. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen
them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
How can asbestos affect my health?
studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos
fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all
are in our daily lives, do not develop health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers,
which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease.
Asbestos material crumbles easily and if handled by scraping, sawing, or sanding, it causes dusting, and may
create a health hazard.
Where can I find asbestos and when can it be a problem?
made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required
to be labeled as such. However, until the mid 1980’s many types of building products and insulation materials
used in homes contained asbestos.
The following are just some of the materials in the home that can contain asbestos:
Popcorn Acoustical Ceiling, Soundproofing, Acoustical Ceiling Tile, Attic insulation, Vermiculite, Duct Tape, Hot water or
steam Pipe Insulation, Thermal Insulation (blow-in, bat, or spray-on), Electric Wire Insulation, Vinyl Floor Tile, Linoleum
Sheet Flooring, Floor Tile Mastic, Wallboard Mud, Plaster Skim Coat, Wallboard (rare), Siding, Municipal Water or Sewer Pipes,
Roll-On Roofing, Window Glazing, Woodstove, Furnace, or Oven Door Gaskets, Fireproofing, Grout
As indicated in
the list, there are many materials that can contain asbestos in a home built before the ban on their manufacture. Some materials
in homes built after the ban can contain asbestos because inventories of the materials were still used into the 1980s.
What should be done about asbestos in the home?
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't
panic! Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone, since material in good condition
will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs. It is recommended
to have an asbestos professional evaluate the condition and advise on course of action. In most cases it is encapsulated
or removed by a qualified professional.
If asbestos material is damaged or you plan renovations or upgrades that
might disturb it; you will require a professional for repair, encapsulation or removal.
are qualified and highly trained in handling asbestos material. Do not attempt to remediate or encapsulate asbestos yourself
due to potential health hazards.
The federal government has training courses for asbestos professionals around
the country. Some state and local governments also have or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals
to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide
proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments
or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area.
For more information, see the EPA's Asbestos Information Resources. and Asbestos.com.
Adapted information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.