Home Construction and Asbestos Exposure
History & Background
Many are surprised to learn that
asbestos still exists in a majority of structures built prior to 1980 in the United
States, including most of the homes we live and raise our families in.
Asbestos in the Home
Image courtesy of the
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
Note* Amateur removal of friable asbestos products can be hazardous to the health
of homeowners and their families. Asbestos exposure is proven to be a
known cause of cancer. Unsuspecting homeowners that performed home renovations
using these products about could be at risk for developing mesothelioma
or another disease. Contact a licensed contractor about removal of asbestos
in your home.
A partial list of asbestos products found in the home today include:
Because asbestos possessed an ability to prevent temperature transfer and
had insulation qualities, it was naturally used in home insulation products.
Home insulation types vary, but nearly all contained asbestos at some
point. Among the types, roll insulation, spray insulation, and loose "popcorn"
insulation all used asbestos to enhance their effectiveness.
Among the more important properties sought when building a home is fire-resistant
material. Asbestos was naturally fire resistant so it was used in many
interior products, including tiling. Floor tiles were often made with
asbestos. Asbestos was also used in adhesives or linoleum compounds that
were used in flooring. Ceiling tiles were also a common use of asbestos.
Because they were often in close proximity to lighting fixtures, asbestos
was used to maintain their fire-resistance.
Home Siding & Roofing Materials
Asbestos was also used in exterior products, including home siding and
roofing. Again, the emphasis on asbestos use in these products was to
enhance their fire-resistance, though it also proved adept at adding insulation
qualities to these materials as well. All varieties of siding and roofing
contained asbestos, including shingles (roof and siding), concrete mixtures,
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Fixtures:
Products used for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning fixtures in
the home used an abundant amount of asbestos. Linings around ventilation
pipes, furnaces, hot water heaters, and other piping were all commonly
made with asbestos. These are often the most common and obvious uses of
asbestos in homes today.
Contrary to some popular misconception, not all asbestos material is immediately
hazardous. Asbestos products only present a danger when they are deemed
to be "friable." Friable is the official terminology for asbestos
products which are damaged, compromised, or unstable to the point where
they are crushable or able to be reduced to powder through human hand pressure.