The EPA banned asbestos in home use in 1989 but many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, siding, insulation (around boilers, ducts, pipes, sheeting, fireplaces), pipe cement, and joint compound used on seams between pieces of sheetrock.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. Pure asbestos is an effective insulator, and it can also be mixed into cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger

When asbestos fibers in the air are inhaled, they can stick to mucus in the throat, trachea (windpipe), or bronchi (large breathing tubes of the lungs) and might be cleared by being coughed up or swallowed. But some fibers reach the ends of the small airways in the lungs or penetrate into the outer lining of the lung and chest wall (known as the pleura). These fibers can irritate the cells in the lung or pleura and eventually cause lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Complications from Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is the second-most diagnosed cancer caused by asbestos. It affects about 3,000 people in the U.S. each year and it is almost exclusively caused by the naturally occurring mineral. Two other cancers confirmed to be caused by asbestos include ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer.

Gastrointestinal cancer and colorectal cancer have an association with asbestos, but more research is needed to establish a complete causal relationship. In some studies, an increased risk for cancer of the esophagus and kidney has been reported among those exposed to asbestos.

How to Identify Materials That May Contain Asbestos

Generally, you can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos and leave it alone. You may want to have your home inspected for asbestos-containing materials by a trained professionalYou are planning to remodel your home (remodeling can disturb building materials)

A trained and accredited asbestos professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended.

For more information on asbestos and asbestos testing please call Superior Inspections at 720.699.9721