Asbestos is carcinogenic and the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer. Most asbestos-related illnesses are linked to those who are exposed to asbestos at work; some of the top at-risk occupations include firefighters, construction workers, and industrial workers.

If your home was built prior to 1980, it could contain asbestos, so it’s very important to treat certain areas carefully to avoid exposure. Remodeling certain areas, as well as normal wear and tear, could potentially release dangerous fibers that pose a threat to you and your family.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of mineral fibers made primarily of oxygen and silicon. Fibers can be found in soil and rocks around the world. Asbestos fibers are heat resistant, strong, and don’t conduct electricity, so they’ve been commonly used in many insulating materials up until the 1970s in the U.S. In new buildings, alternative insulators are used.

Common Places to Find Asbestos in the Home

  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Roofs
  • Cement shingle siding
  • Pipes
  • Appliances
  • Fireplaces and wood stoves
  • Window caulking
  • Popcorn ceiling texture and textured paint
  • Attic, pipe, and furnace insulation
  • Patching compounds

How to Avoid Exposure

If you have asbestos in your home, or you’re not sure whether you do or not, leave the area in question alone. Call a trained professional to inspect it and test for asbestos before beginning a home improvement project. They can tell you if any materials contain asbestos if removal or a repair is required.\

Disturbing something that contains asbestos could release fibers into the air for you to inhale. Even if you don’t disturb these areas, natural deterioration could send dust airborne.

Until the area has been tested and confirmed to be asbestos-free, avoid

  • Removing roofing or siding materials
  • Scraping floor tiles
  • Touching or moving loose-fill attic insulation
  • Removing insulation around plumbing or the furnace
  • Sanding popcorn ceilings
  • Scraping patching compounds

The bottom line: don’t touch it! It’s not worth risking your health and wellbeing. Leave dealing with asbestos-containing materials to the pros. Even if you’re not planning to remodel your home, asbestos fibers can be released into your home if building materials, like drywall or ceiling tiles or paint, starts wearing down or becomes damaged. If you notice anything that may raise a red flag, deal with it immediately. Call an accredited asbestos professional to inspect your home and provide the best course of action for remedy.