Many homeowners are concerned when a thorough home inspection reveals the presence of asbestos. Usually, the first question the owner asks the inspector is if they should be worried about asbestos in the home.
To answer this question, it is first important to know what asbestos is and how it can affect your health.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring material that consists of microscopic fibres. The dangers of asbestos are associated with breathing in these fine dust particles. These can lodge in the lungs and cause a number of serious respiratory conditions including lung cancer.
This doesn’t mean that you should be worried about asbestos in your home. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), products containing asbestos don’t pose significant health risks if they are in good condition, left undisturbed, sealed behind walls, or isolated in the attic.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say that asbestosis is caused by long-term exposure to high levels of airborne asbestos fibres. They say that it is generally safe to be around asbestos materials as long as the fibres are contained and don’t get into the air.
Sometimes a home inspection will discover materials or products that are damaged or recommend that some repairs are needed. If this is the case, you should arrange to have the asbestos removed by a qualified contractor.
Where is asbestos found in homes?
Asbestos was used in the construction of homes before 1990 due to its strength and fire-resistant qualities. Older homes may have asbestos in roofing shingles, furnace ducts, old resilient floor tiles, or used as insulation on hot water and steam pipes.
If asbestos products are in good condition, there is no need to panic or remove it. However, if you decide to remodel your home or carry out renovations, you should have your home inspected by a licensed professional.