There is a cancer-causing substance that is most likely all around us every day and a lot of people have no idea about it. Even if you have heard of asbestos, you likely have no idea all the different places that it is found!
Asbestos’s most common use is for insulation. And, as an insulator, it works very well. But if it is not in good shape or is damaged by daily functions around our home or work, it could be releasing fibers into the air. If inhaled, these fibers can over time cause such things as mesothelioma and asbestosis. I know we have all heard of mesothelioma, anyone who has cable has heard the endless law firm commercials about it. And there is a reason you hear it so much. For a long time, asbestos was used so widely that many people were coming into contact with it daily and over time became sick.
A lot of people think asbestos is no longer used in today’s products now that its risks are so widely known but they couldn’t be more misinformed. The 18 wheelers you pass on the highway have asbestos breaks, and that is not all. Asbestos is still used in some building materials that you could have in your home and, if your home is of a certain age (built before the late 1980s) you have a higher likelihood of that. Having said that, if your home and the products contained in it are still of good quality and not falling apart or are otherwise compromised, these materials are still safe to have in your home. But, you have to know what contains asbestos to make sure you do not accidentally come into contact with it and cause a release of fibers putting yourself at risk.
There are over 3,000 products that contain asbestos (extensive list here), but this article is going to focus more on some of the ones you are around every day such as plaster walls, sheet rock, sheet rock joint compound, ceiling tiles, pipe and attic insulation, floor tile, glue that holds floor tile down, window caulking, roof shingles or roof flashing, Transite siding or Transite pipes used for your home’s HVAC system, and HVAC insulation. That is just some of the stuff that may contain asbestos in your home.
Some household items you may not have thought of that contains asbestos are talcum powder and make up. A simple inspection of your home or products can let you know what if any products you have in your home contain asbestos, and air samples can be run if you fear fibers have been released.
Photo credit: epa.gov