Sunday, January 02, 2011

Renovating? Test for Asbestos First

If you purchased a mid-century bungalow or Victorian manor, the sellers most likely signed a lead paint disclosure, or at least your agent educated you on the possible presence of lead paint. While the paint is dangerous to children if it flakes off and is ingested, it is relatively benign under a solid paint job. On the contrary, asbestos that was used in tile indeed poses a hazard if disturbed in any way. Home flippers frequently like to tear out old walls themselves and that is when they are most likely to come into contact with asbestos.

Mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer, comes directly from inhaling the substance. Tiny glass-like shards cling to the lining of the lungs. While some people do survive, the recovery is far from 100%.

In the United Kingdom, places of business are required to have an asbestos survey to locate possible risks. In fact, one theater that I had worked in years ago was shut down for awhile to mitigate the risk from falling and deteriorating tile. Home owners do not have to carry the burden of getting their house tested as it is not mandatory, but it is so important to elect an asbestos survey. If your home was built before 1990, it may contain toilet cisterns, weather proofing material, or asbestos plaster board. A home improvement project could have also incorporated leftover materials. Sometimes bans and code changes take awhile to trickle down. Perhaps a diligent contractor disposed of suspect materials, but if you used leftovers to patch a wall yourself later on, you could have used asbestos material.

An asbestos survey entails a specially trained individual visually inspecting the premises. Sometimes a visual inspection is all that is needed. However, if the visual inspection is inconclusive or damaged tile is present, a laboratory test may be necessary. While this may seem like a hassle, your family's health is of prime importance. While documented asbestos-related illnesses have been recorded as early as the 1920s, it is shocking to think that this material was only outlawed in the 90s and after the turn of the 21st century in some countries. If you are in the UK, the test is pretty standard. If you are in the United States or other international points, check with your local jurisdiction to find an asbestos tester.



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