Don’t Fool Around with Asbestos

May 28, 2009

HVAC, insulation

Many old homes are loaded with toxic stuff, mine included. My area of New York State has one of the highest levels of homes with lead-based paint in the state. A lot of these homes were built in the 1800s, before people knew (and even after some manufacturers knew) about the dangers of toxic products for the home. Everyone hears about lead paint these days, and the dangers of it, but who hears about the dangers of asbestos? I hardly ever hear about it, and I know that a LOT of old homes have it. Mine does– it was used to wrap furnace ducts and hot water pipes, and is even on the exterior siding (lots of homes around here have asbestos-cement siding– a salesman made the rounds in the 60s and managed to wheedle a lot of homeowners to get it. :-p). Don’t fool with asbestos! It must be removed very carefully. You don’t want the fibers to become airborne, and you do not want to breathe them in.

Asbestos has been known to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer. It was big news here in Central New York when a construction company had its workers remove tons of asbestos-laden materials without proper safety procedures and protection. It’s becoming all too common, so much so that there are now Mesothelioma Lawyers who specialize in this kind of action. (Ever see A Civil Action? Kind of like that). Mesothelioma is most common among people who work in the shipbuilding and construction industry, and in auto mechanics (brake pads are still lined with asbestos). The really maddening thing about this is that for DECADES industries have known about the dangers of asbestos and still some have done little or nothing to protect people. GRRRRRRR!!!

Asbestos is fireproof, which is why it became so popular. But when the material is broken into small fibers and allowed to become airborne, it can get into the lungs and “stick” to the inner lining, causing health problems. It is less of a threat to everyday homeowners, but you don’t want to be an idiot and spew the stuff all over the place! Read up on how to deal with asbestos and other toxins in your home before you start any demolition. In most cases, you can remove small quantities yourself with a strong plastic bag, a spray bottle to capture any loose fibers, and a HEPA mask. Know the dangers! And if you or someone you know has worked in the construction industry or shipbuilding industry, make them aware of the health effects, and get checked. And put the pressure on industries to stop poisoning our homes and communities!!

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