Asbestos has been a long-standing battle for builders around the world, but homeowners should also be careful not to overlook exposure when taking matters of the home into their own hands.
Spotlighting National Poison Prevention Week, this is the perfect time to educate readers on the most effective ways to safeguard their lungs before DIY.
Airborne asbestos fibers have become a major source of occupational cancer among tradesmen, inspiring both workers and homeowners to take cautionary steps before diving into home improvement. Here are four simple ways to prepare ahead of time and ensure sure your household is safe from exposure.
1. Know The Facts
Learning where asbestos tends to hide is key because these fibers are microscopic and have proven extremely difficult to spot with the eye.
The first major indicator is the age of your home, as this mineral was heavily integrated into building materials prior to 1980.
As a result, if your home was built beforehand you should take preventative measures such as checking areas around the house for decay and seeking a professional opinion before remodeling.
Before you assume your home is not at risk, take a look at the long list of products that once contained asbestos. Once you’ve learned what building materials were likely mixed with these fibers (often components that required heat resistance), it will be much easier to spot a potential hazard, contact a professional for further assessment and stop exposure before any fibers are disturbed.
2. Do Not Disturb
Asbestos is harmless when left alone, however, the very nature of home improvement can become problematic if the mineral is present.
Once these fibers have been loosened, they become airborne, leading them to travel, linger and be inhaled.
Inhalation and ingestion of these fibers have been discovered to induce a number of asbestos-related diseases, including the devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Asbestos was mixed into a wide variety of building materials and as a result, have been littered throughout homes and buildings across the U.S. and, although we have no control over where it remains leftover today, the public can take preventative action to reduce their risk.
While it may be hard to ignore suspicious materials, never attempt to remove contaminated materials yourself.
Any sort of pressure, scrape or abrasion can loosen these fibers, allowing them to become airborne.
It’s better to limit access and seal off the room that may contain asbestos until a professional can examine the area.
If you do live in an older building, keep an eye out for any natural deterioration around the house. Aside from physical damage, toxic materials will eventually weather over time on their own.
3. Wear Protective Gear
While following proper guidelines is a powerful step toward prevention, wearing recommended protective gear can also significantly reduce your likelihood of exposure.
Homeowners should wear disposable clothing during renovation because toxic dust can settle on clothes, exposing friends or family later on. It has even been found to settle into the hair, which makes decontamination procedures absolutely necessary for those working around asbestos regularly.
Those seeking to remodel on their own should invest in a quality respirator that is able to restrict not only asbestos fibers, but any toxic dust from entering the body.
When potentially dealing with asbestos, look for products guaranteed to keep these tiny particles out.
Never rely on low-price thin paper dust masks as they are not effective in protecting your lungs, but rather opt for a half facepiece respirator that will stay secure.
4. Professionals Know Best
Before renovating, research credible inspectors who are fluent in spotting and safely handling asbestos. If the evaluation comes back positive, they will recommend a licensed abatement specialist who can promptly seal or remove the toxin and guarantee your safety.
If your home is found to be contaminated, you may be forced to leave the premises until it’s safe, however, this temporary change is well worth knowing your lungs are safe from the consequences of asbestos exposure.