Asbestos, once a common building material made from a ‘miracle mineral’, is now a word that raises concerns about health and safety in homes. This naturally occurring mineral, praised for its heat resistance and durability, was extensively used in various construction materials. However, its potential to cause serious health issues like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis has led to a global reevaluation of its use.
Homeowners today face a critical question: can you test for asbestos at home? Understanding the risks and methods for detecting asbestos is essential for ensuring a safe living environment. In this post, we’re going to look at the feasibility and accuracy of at-home asbestos testing, and provide some guidance on when and how to get professional help with testing and removal.
What Is Asbestos & Why is it Dangerous?
Asbestos refers to a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals, known for their remarkable resistance to heat, chemicals, and electricity. Historically, these properties made asbestos a popular choice for insulating houses and buildings, as well as manufacturing products like tiles, shingles, and even car brakes. Despite its utility, asbestos poses significant health risks when its fibers become broken or disturbed, causing them to become airborne and subsequently inhaled.
Asbestos was eventually prohibited from being used or included in most residential and commercial buildings in the late 1970s, but it was not required that existing asbestos use be removed, so there it sits to this day. Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to severe, even deadly lung diseases, such as cancer. Understanding what exactly asbestos is and recognizing its presence in building materials is critical for homeowners, especially in older properties where its use is more prevalent.
How to Know if You Should Test Your Home for Asbestos
Knowing the indications that you may have asbestos in your home is critical for keeping your home and its inhabitants safe. Homes built before the 1980s are more likely to contain asbestos in materials like insulation, vinyl flooring, popcorn ceilings, and pipe coverings. Visible signs of wear and tear in these areas can increase the risk of asbestos fiber release.
If your home was built in the 1970s or prior, and has any of these features, arranging for testing can be crucial for gaining peace of mind. Additionally, if you’re planning renovations or demolitions, testing becomes imperative to prevent disturbing asbestos-containing materials.
Can You Test for Asbestos at Home Yourself?
While there are DIY asbestos testing kits available, their accuracy and safety are often questionable. These kits usually involve collecting a sample of the suspected material and sending it to a lab for analysis. This is assuming that you can identify the most likely locations for positive results.
However, the process of collecting a sample can be risky, as it might disturb the asbestos fibers and release them into the air. Moreover, without the right techniques and protective gear, homeowners might expose themselves and others to health risks. Therefore, while at-home testing is possible, it comes with significant limitations and potential hazards.
Why Working With A Professional Is Ideal
Professional asbestos testing is crucial due to the expertise and equipment involved in safely identifying and handling asbestos. Their methods are more comprehensive and reliable, ensuring accurate results. Additionally, they’ll also be able to advise on the next steps, whether it involves asbestos removal, encapsulation, or simply monitoring the condition.
Trust Sensitive Environmental With Your Asbestos Testing
Even though you can, technically, test for asbestos in your home as a DIY project, the risks and limitations often outweigh any potential benefit. If you believe your home may have asbestos-containing materials, or if it was simply built before the 80s and you’d like a little peace of mind, we can help. Contact Sensitive Environmental today to get started with a free consultation.