What to Do with Asbestos in the Home

Almost everyone has heard the word "asbestos" and is aware of the negative connotations surrounding the mineral substance, but you may not be aware of precisely what asbestos is or what to do if you discover its presence in your home. The consequences of exposure can be dire, so to protect yourself and your family from the harm that can be caused by asbestos, you will want to familiarize yourself with as much information as possible. By better understanding what asbestos is and how to determine whether or not it is present in your home, you will be in a better position to protect yourself against the hazards associated with asbestos in your Alhambra house, or any other area in Los Angeles.

What Is Asbestos?

While you may have heard of “asbestos” many times, you may be unaware of precisely what that word means. Asbestos is a word that describes a group of half a dozen naturally occurring fibrous minerals: actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and tremolite — with the most common being amosite and chrysotile. What makes asbestos so appealing for housing and construction purposes is its strength and resistance to high temperatures.

What is Asbestos Used For?

The qualities of heat resistance and durability lead to the inclusion of asbestos in many different construction compounds, including concrete, adhesives, asphalt, and other vinyl material. It was common to add asbestos to these types of building materials between the 1940s and the 1970s. This means that asbestos can often be found in houses from this era, in a variety of different locations, including: vinyl tiles on the floor, shingles on the roof, plaster, pipes used for boilers, blown-in attic insulation, HVAC duct insulation, and even caulking. However, asbestos was eliminated from housing materials in the 1980s after research revealed it could pose health and safety risks.

What Are the Consequences of Asbestos Exposure?

There are severe health consequences — with the most severe health complications affecting the respiratory system — for people exposed to asbestos on a long-term or frequent basis either as the result of environmental exposure, exposure on the job, or through secondhand exposure. When there are particles of asbestos in the air, a person may swallow or inhale the material. Since the body cannot metabolize the asbestos fibers and materials, they may become embedded in the lining of the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity, or elsewhere in the body. These trapped fibers can cause harm to soft tissue, resulting in damage and inflammation that can lead to cancer (mesothelioma, asbestosis, and respiratory cancer), enlargement of the heart, and a weakened immune system.

How Does Exposure Occur?

The mere presence of asbestos is not necessarily a health risk. If the material that contains asbestos is left undisturbed or undamaged, the asbestos particles (known as fibers) are not released into the air, and then the exposure will not occur. So long as the material that contains asbestos is left alone and it remains entirely intact, it will not release the hazardous fibers.

How to Deal with Asbestos in the Home

If you believe that you have been exposed to asbestos as a result of the materials in your home, it can be hard to know what steps to take next. One of the wisest possible decisions is to seek the assistance of professionals who have experience dealing with issues like these, such as the legal team at Tenants Law Firm.