Updated on February 13, 2015
Asbestos Exposure is Hazardous to Your Health!
Identifying Asbestos Exposure:
Today, asbestos is an insidious killer found in many America’s homes. Yet, most people are not even aware of their exposure to this carcinogen. Asbestos expert, Dr. Barry Castleman states: “Major asbestos exposure continues today in building renovation, demolition and maintenance, and automotive brake repair.” In 2001, the U.S. consumed more than 28 million pounds of asbestos in the form of roofing products, gaskets, brakes and other products. Be sure you know where asbestos may be in your home.
Download our one-page flyer about identifying asbestos in your home: “Identifying Asbestos in Your Home”
For safety and prevention, follow established EPA guidelines.
For information concerning the identification and abatement of asbestos hazards in the home, and on the asbestos content of certain consumer products, call the EPA Asbestos Hotline: (800) 368-5888. Additional information is available through the EPA State Asbestos Contacts.
Homeowners Asbestos Prevention Guidelines:
- Do not remove or damage asbestos material.
- Consult asbestos professionals or the EPA for testing & removal information.
- Don’t dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t saw, sand, scrape or drill holes in asbestos materials.
- Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
- Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
- Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house, call an asbestos professionals or the EPA for testing & removal information.
The Federal law requires schools to identify asbestos-containing material in school buildings and take appropriate action to control release of asbestos fibers. Be aware.
Guidelines for choosing a qualified asbestos contractor:
- Choose a licensed contractor.
- Be aware that some contractors may remove material incorrectly and still charge a substantial fee.
- Require references from the contractor and check them to see if the contractor’s work is satisfactory.
- Require the contractor to specify his safety procedures in writing.
- Consider hiring a certified asbestos consultant to review safety procedures and oversee the performance of the contractor.
FAQ’s about asbestos in the home:
How should the homeowner repair or remove asbestos?
For more information on asbestos identification and control activities, contact the Asbestos Coordinator in the EPA Regional Office for your region, or your state or local health department.
How can asbestos content in materials be determined?
When asbestos is suspected of being present in building materials, it is important to have the materials tested by a qualified laboratory. Visual inspection alone is not enough to identify the presence of asbestos. However, such testing may not be warranted if the material is in good condition, in which case it is best to leave it in place. If the material is damaged, or will be disturbed during normal household activities or remodeling, it should be tested.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a generic term, which describes a group of diverse, naturally occurring, fibrous minerals. These minerals occur as bundles of strong, flexible fibers that are chemically inert, do not burn, and have good insulating properties.
Where is asbestos found in the home?
Asbestos has been used in many products found in the home to provide insulation, strength, and fire protection. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced a phased ban of asbestos products to be completed by 1996. The most common items in the home that may contain asbestos are:
- Vinyl flooring
- Duct wrapping on heating and air conditioning systems
- Insulation on hot water pipes and boilers, especially in homes built from 1920 to 1972
- Some roofing, shingles, and siding
- Ceiling and wall insulation in some homes built or remodeled between 1945 and 1978
- Sheet rock taping compounds and some ceiling materials
- Asbestos that has been sprayed on ceilings often has a spongy, “cottage cheese” appearance with irregular soft surfaces. The manufacturers can provide information on the asbestos content of home products. A Certified Asbestos Consultant can be hired to determine whether or not asbestos is present and to give advice about how to take care of it safely.
Please also see our new page: Dangerous Asbestos Products!
Environmental & Home Repairs
Federal Safety and Prevention Information
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Federal Medical Resources
- National Cancer Institute (NCI)
- National Institutes for Health (NIH)
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not make legal referrals.