Many DIY-ers are not aware, but their households can be a nest of hazardous materials. While plastic, lead and hard chemicals can cause serious health problems, none is worse than asbestos. This long-forgotten construction material was a common ingredient in houses that date back to the 1960-70s. Unfortunately, it can still be found in some older properties. In fact, some estimates say that two out of three homes are affected by asbestos. Of course, not all homes contain significant amounts of this material, but even the smallest traces can cause various health issues. So, to help you stay safe and healthy during your DIY projects, we have created a quick guide to all things asbestos. We will talk about the dangers it presents, how to find it, and what to do in case your property is affected. So, let’s begin.
The dangers of asbestos
Simply put, asbestos is a nasty material; how it passed all health inspections back in the 1950s, we have no clue. What we do know is that it was cheap, sturdy and efficient, so construction companies immediately started using asbestos as an alternative to traditional construction materials. However, around the 1970s, first studies started coming out and soon everyone realised the potential harm this material can cause. While asbestos is not harmful if dormant, as soon as you disturb it, you will be exposed to its harmful expects.
So, how do people disturb asbestos?
Well, the most common way is during home renovations. Tearing down asbestos-affected walls will lift its particles in the air, and if you inhale them, you could develop some health problems. The worst part, there is no minimum amount that you can inhale; even the slightest exposure can seriously harm you. People that inhale asbestos particles can develop numerous health problems with their respiratory system, as well as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
What can you do?
If your home was built or your last renovation on it was before the 1990s, you should test it for asbestos. The best way to go about this is to hire a licensed company that specialises in this type of service. They have specialised equipment and protective gear that will help them conduct the evaluation safely and thoroughly. Usually, these tests will require more than just one sample to determine precisely what areas are affected. But in most cases, asbestos is found in bathrooms, kitchens, cement floors, garages, behind walls, etc.
Asbestos be gone
Once you have the test results, you can proceed with the asbestos removal process. It’s important to note that removing asbestos by yourself is not only hazardous, but also illegal. All countries in the world require homeowners to hire professional companies that will properly remedy this problem. You see, asbestos is not only harmful to house occupants, but to the environment as well. Because asbestos is hazardous when airborne, you will have to vacate the premises during the removal process. After that, the contractors will dispose of asbestos in a strictly controlled manner, using specialised containers and protocols.
As we said at the beginning of this article, many DIY enthusiasts are not aware of these insidious hazards around their homes. While there is nothing more rewarding than starting and completing a DIY project, things could quickly turn for the worse if your house is affected by asbestos. Even something simple like drilling a hole to hang a family portrait can disturb asbestos and cause its particles to go airborne. So, before you start your next project, make sure your house is asbestos-free or you could expose your family and yourself to the dangers of this material.
By Will Sandford