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Over 100 million Americans have been exposed to asbestos. Between 12,000 and 15,000, people across the country die as a result of this exposure each year. 

A significant portion of Americans who get exposed to asbestos are workers in the construction industry. These people suffer frequent exposure to asbestos on the job and are more likely to exhibit asbestos signs in the long run.

Numerous other cases of exposure happen at home, especially during do-it-yourself home projects. In your effort to upgrade and beautify your older home, you might be unknowingly contaminating the air you and your loved ones breathe.

But exactly what is asbestos? What makes asbestos so dangerous? What signs of asbestos should be on the lookout for?

If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we tell you all you need to know about asbestos so you can make informed decisions when dealing with it. 

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a generic name for several naturally occurring fibrous minerals. These minerals are chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.

Asbestos is mined mainly due to its desirable qualities such as high tensile strength, thermal and chemical stability, thermal insulation, large surface area, low electrical conductivity, and cost-effectiveness.

Previously, asbestos was widely used in a variety of building materials.  Many construction products still contain it today, including different types of cement, drywall, insulation, fireproofing, tiles, adhesives, and many more.

Is Asbestos Dangerous?

The simple answer is yes. Sure, some types of asbestos are more hazardous than others, but all are still harmful to human health. Amphibole forms of asbestos are generally known to be the most dangerous varieties.

Asbestos is among the home carcinogens known to cause cancer. Any asbestos can cause malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer. 

No level of asbestos exposure is safe. That makes asbestos one of the major home inspection red flags

Common Asbestos Signs

It’s hardly possible to identify asbestos through a visual inspection. Still, there are ways to tell whether your home may have these minerals. If the following is true about your home, you may want to schedule an asbestos inspection soon.

1. You Live in an Older Home

Among the clearest signs that your home may have asbestos in your home is if the house was built before the 1980s. Most construction materials used at the time contained asbestos. These materials were particularly used for roofs, ceilings, and walls.

2. Your Home Has Materials That Contain Asbestos

Even if you don’t live in an older home, you may still be exposed to asbestos if your house is built with materials that have asbestos content. Here are three such materials:

Vinyl Tiles

Generally, vinyl tiles are more likely to have asbestos compared to other tiles. If your house contains this type of tiles, an asbestos inspection may be necessary. 

Pipe Insulation 

Due to its impressive fireproofing qualities, asbestos may be used to insulate pipes. Check the type of pipe insulation you have and consider changing it if it contains asbestos. 

Roofing Sheets

The majority of flat corrugated roofing sheets contain asbestos. Manufacturers use white asbestos due to the substance’s durability. But, as we mentioned before, asbestos can be harmful, which is why you need to check whether your roofing materials have this mineral before using them. 

3. Test Results Show Asbestos Content

The surest sign that you have asbestos in your home is through scientific detection methods. Thanks to technological advancement in the construction and home inspection sectors, it’s easy to detect asbestos in a site accurately. Among the testing procedures and devices used to detect asbestos include:

Traditional Microscopy

Traditional microscopy is the commonest approach used for checking the presence of asbestos in a home. The expert collects a sample of the material suspected to contain asbestos and sends it to the lab. Once the sample is in the lab, a technician examines it for the presence of asbestos fibers through a microscope.

Handheld Spectroscopy 

Here, an expert uses a handheld spectroscope to detect the presence of asbestos directly in your house. The device uses the interaction between light and matter to identify the elements a specific material contains. Handheld spectroscopy is an easier and faster process since it doesn’t need a sample or lab investigation.

Magnetic Field 

Magnetic field testing is a fairly recent technological advancement where an expert uses lasers and magnets to check for asbestos filters in construction materials. Cutting-edge sensors help spot even low concentrations of asbestos in the air.

4. You Notice Health Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure

As we pointed out before, asbestos has been proven to cause serious health conditions—unfortunately, many of these conditions only manifest decades after initial asbestos exposure. 

That being said, it’s essential to take action when you notice health symptoms that may point to the presence of asbestos in your home. 

Among the health conditions caused by asbestos exposure are asbestosis and mesothelioma, which are often characterized by:

  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Wheezing 
  • Chest and shoulder pains
  • Swollen fingertips
  • Weight loss
  • Blood clotting
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Fever
  • Bowel obstruction

Of course, there’s a variety of other conditions that share these symptoms, so you need to talk to your doctor first to find out what exactly is causing them.

What to Do About Asbestos in Your Home

If you suspect that something in your home is asbestos, avoid touching it. Even if the material looks to be in good condition, it’s best to leave it alone. Instead, contact a licensed asbestos professional in your area for assistance. 

Once the asbestos professional has removed the substance from your home, test the air once again. This gives you the peace of mind that you and your loved ones aren’t exposed to this harmful carcinogen. 

Avoid Asbestos Exposure at All Costs

There’s no question that asbestos exposure can cause severe health conditions. For this reason, you need to take action on asbestos signs at the earliest possible opportunity. Remember to always work with a professional to avoid further exposure when dealing with asbestos in your home.

Do you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home? Please schedule an inspection with us today to be sure.