Prospective home buyers often head into their search with a checklist of things to look for in a house. Big kitchens, nice bathrooms, wood floors, plenty of natural light, new appliances and a spacious backyard frequently top homebuyers? wish lists.
But what about asbestos-free construction materials?
Nearly all homes built before the 1980s contain asbestos products. According to the most recent American Housing Survey, homes from the 1960s, ?70s and ?80s make up the majority of all occupied housing units. This means that most of the houses a potential homebuyer will consider will contain asbestos in some form.
Asbestos-contaning home construction products include tiles, carpet backings, shingles and attic insulation. Other common asbestos products include:
- Textured wall coverings
- Popcorn ceilings
- Window caulking
- Heating and cooling ducts
When going on a walk-through of a home, homeowners may not be able to spot these asbestos products. Asbestos fibers are only visible in extremely old products that have started to crack or crumble ? most asbestos is completely contained within the material.
Asbestos that is fully sealed within the larger product - as is most commonly the case with asbestos bricks, wallboard and other similar products ? is not a danger to homeowners. However, once the house has been purchased and the homeowner begins renovating the rooms, asbestos products may be damaged and asbestos can be released into the air.
If inhaled, asbestos can pose a serious health risk, leading to illnesses such as mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis.
How homeowners can protect their health when choosing a home
With the average age of a house in the United States exceeding 30 years or more, it is almost impossible for a homeowner to purchase an entirely asbestos-free home. However, people can take several steps while house shopping to ensure the health of residents and visitors to their future home.
Ask about any prior asbestos inspections.
Some homes have already undergone asbestos inspections. Ask the Realtor if they have any records from an asbestos abatement crew. This provides you up-front with a list of products in the home that were found to contain asbestos. ?
If no inspection has been performed, consider hiring an asbestos abatement professional to check the house out.
The abatement specialist will thoroughly inspect your house and take samples of suspicious products.
After sending the samples to a lab for investigation, the abatement company will provide you with a list of items that are found to contain asbestos. The inspector will also tell you which asbestos products pose an immediate health threat and give suggestions on how to correct them.
Be smart with your renovations.
Homeowners often move into a new house with plenty of plans to personalize their home. However, this is one of the biggest sources of asbestos exposure today. No renovations should be done before an asbestos inspection is performed. Additionally, homeowners should not attempt to self-renovate any asbestos-containing materials. These procedures should be performed by a construction worker with an up-to-date asbestos certification.?
Guest Author: Faith Franz,?a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.