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:

Asbestos Insulation

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.

Tiling

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, and fiberboard.

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.

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