Older homes were often constructed using materials that we now know to be dangerous. Asbestos is one such material that was used in various aspects of construction up until the 1970's. If you purchase an old home that has not been touched since then, you could likely encounter it. Asbestos is a mineral fiber. Different types of asbestos fibers were used to provide added strength to materials and deliver fire resistance and heat insulation.
Risks associated with asbestos. When a person has been exposed to asbestos fibers over a prolonged period, they are susceptible to a variety of health problems. Mesothelioma which is a type of cancer affecting the chest lining and abdominal cavity and asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs with fibrous tissue are among the very serious diseases caused by asbestos.
Why should you be careful when fixing up an old home? If there is asbestos in the home, scraping, sanding or the handling of it, in general, can cause asbestos fibers to be released into the air, placing you at risk of inhaling them. Asbestos fibers stay in the lungs for a long time so we can see why breathing them in is so hazardous.
What should you do if you are worried asbestos is in your home? Get the home inspected so that the problem can be properly diagnosed. If it is found, you should not try to remove it yourself, but it should be taken care of by someone qualified in the safe removal of asbestos.