Asbestos, a group of six fibrous silicate materials, is a known carcinogen,. Over the last decade, the U.S. imported over 8 million pounds of raw asbestos through our ports. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos has not yet been banned in the United States. But even if we were to see a ban on asbestos in the next few years, the problem would not be solved. Because of the mineral’s prolific use in the past, and its natural occurrence in some areas of the country, people will still be exposed, and we will still see cases of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. This is why proper identification, remediation, and abatement of asbestos are crucial in minimizing future exposures, therefore minimizing disease development
If you are working on your home or in a potentially contaminated building, it is important to know beforehand whether or not asbestos is present. Before swinging the hammer or starting any project, consider the following: STOP – LOOK – THINK.
The STOP – LOOK – THINK philosophy is to instill safety in all areas of our lives. We need to avoid taking immediate action and instead focus on taking a step back and considering consequences. This is already an established way of thinking in trades workers, but we need to extend this mindset to homeowners, white-collar professionals, teachers, and so on.
STOP to take a mental inventory of everything around you. Know how to recognize harmful products that need further investigation. Asbestos is classified as a hazardous material, and specific policies must be followed for removal and waste.
LOOK around and determine if any materials could contain asbestos. If you think it is asbestos, it is considered asbestos until proven otherwise.
THINK about the consequences of your decisions. If you start working, is there a chance you will expose yourself and others around you to asbestos?
Asbestos may likely be present in the following areas:
- Homes and buildings built prior to 1980, especially between 1930 and 1950, may contain asbestos
- Roofing and siding shingles that may be made of asbestos cement
- Sound proofing and decorative materials
- Pipe insulation
- Resilient flooring tiles and vinyl sheet flooring
- HVAC system insulation and connectors
If you are unsure whether asbestos is present, you should have a professional test conducted. In doing so, make sure the lab preforming the test is certified through the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. Click here to find a lab with qualified inspection and abatement professionals.
Further information about asbestos, where it may be present in homes and buildings, and who is at risk of exposure can be found at curemeso.org/asbestos.