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Having asbestos in your home can be scary. It’s one of the nastiest things you will probably encounter in your home. Asbestos was commonly sprayed in ceilings and into walls because it acted as a fire retardant and can insulate. It was a popular material in the twentieth century, and if your home was built before the 1980s, there is a possibility that it has asbestos. Despite its various benefits as a construction material, when it becomes airborne, asbestos becomes extremely dangerous and carries devastating health risks. For this reason, the Environment Protection Agency banned the use of asbestos materials in constructions.
The most common places in your home where you are likely to find asbestos is in the ceiling tiles, old floors tiles, roof shingles, siding, insulation which includes the duct pipes, around the boilers, in the pipes, attic insulation, sheeting and around fireplaces. You are also likely to find asbestos in sheetrock as it was used as a joint compound on seams when joining pieces of sheetrock.
Asbestos refers to naturally occurring mineral known as fibrous silicate which was mined for itirs essential qualities such as insulating capabilities, fire retardant, extremely high tensile strength and its chemical and thermal stability. It was commonly used as an essential building material in the period between the 1940s, and 1970s until when it was discovered to be a health risk. Asbestos is identified as a carcinogen which has been established to be the cause of mesothelioma. This is a type of cancer that comes about when you breathe in or ingest asbestos fibers.
As much the presence of asbestos may sound alarming to you, it only becomes hazardous and dangerous when you disturb the material and release the fibers into the air. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it’s friable. Friable in this case is when the asbestos can easily crumble and release its hazardous fibers in the air. The worst being asbestos insulation which can crumble so easily when sprayed on.
However, ceiling tiles or floor tiles, shingles, siding, fire doors are less likely to release the substance until they are disturbed. For example, if you drill a ceiling tile that contains asbestos, it will release the asbestos fibers which will then become airborne. Other scenarios where asbestos is likely to become friable is gradual damage and deterioration especially water damage, aging, physical activities such as buffing, grinding, drilling, cutting, or sawing. When released into the air, asbestos fibers become hazardous. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and EPA, once asbestos is released into the air, there is usually no safe level of exposure, and any amount of asbestos fibers is hazardous and dangerous.
Asbestos, in the past, was commonly used as a building material until its health risks were discovered. Its use as a building material was then banned, and the health risks were made known to the public. Keep reading the guide to learn how asbestos can harm you once the fibers become airborne.
As we mentioned in this guide, the presence of asbestos material in your home may not pose an immediate danger unless the material starts deteriorating, gets damaged or disturbed as a result of physical activities. But, if your home contains asbestos materials, there is a potential chance for the asbestos-containing materials to be broken or get disturbed. If this happens, the fibers will become airborne, and the health risks can be devastating.
The effects of long exposure to asbestos may not be instant, but if inhaled, the body will not be able to break down the fibers or remove them, and they will get lodged in your lungs and other body tissues. Gradual inhalation of asbestos fibers will cause the following diseases:
Mesothelioma: this a rare type of cancer caused by asbestos and normally affects the thin membrane lining of your lungs, abdomen, chest and in rare cases, the heart. A report shows that almost 200 cases of mesothelioma cancer are usually diagnosed annually in the United States. Most of these cases have a direct link to exposure to asbestos fibers. A report shows that nearly 2% of miners and textile workers known to work with asbestos materials and about 10% of workers who were directly working for organizations manufacturing gas masks containing asbestos materials were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Symptoms associated with mesothelioma usually include a buildup of fluid around the lungs, bad cases of coughing, and the patient will experience difficulties in breathing, fatigue, and ribcage pain. Mesothelioma takes time to occur. It can take decades after you have been exposed to asbestos fibers for mesothelioma to develop. Therefore, if you lived in a home with asbestos materials, or you worked in an area with asbestos, or you handled asbestos-containing materials, you are at high risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is actually the worst health risk resulting from asbestos exposure.
Asbestosis: This is a non-cancerous respiratory disease but its chronic and fatal. It’s a lung condition that often causes bad cases of coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath. You may experience dry crackling sounds in your lungs especially when you are inhaling. Some patients experience strange symptoms where their fingernails and toenails become round and wide shaped.
Even worse, asbestosis can cause permanent lung damage. Inhaling asbestos fibers can aggravate the lung tissue and eventually scar the lungs leading to lung damage. It can even lead to cardiac failure in some people when it gets to the advanced stages.
Just like mesothelioma, this disease can take years to develop after exposure to the substance. Asbestosis symptoms can be managed through some medications, but there is no established effective medication to cure asbestosis. In some cases, the patient may end up experiencing total lung failure prompting for a lung transplant. It has also been established that people suffering from asbestosis are likely to have lung cancer as the disease progresses.
If you do not work with contaminated materials, you have minimal chances of getting asbestosis. However, if you renovate a house with asbestos without the necessary precautions or get exposed to asbestos fibers, you are at high risk of developing asbestosis.
Lung cancer: this is another health risk related to exposure to asbestos. Lung cancer is known to be the leading cause of deaths that are linked to asbestos exposure. Reports show that incidences of lung cancer are quite high with people who work with asbestos-containing materials especially those who mine, mill and manufacture and use materials and products containing asbestos.
Symptoms associated with lung cancer include drastic breathing changes, coughing, chest pains, anemia and loss of voice or hoarseness. If you are a cigarette smoker and you expose yourself to asbestos, chances of developing lung cancer are quite high. But, generally, if you are exposed to asbestos-containing material you still at risk of developing lung cancer.
The above are the established health risks related to exposure to asbestos. Sadly, there is no standard or safe level of asbestos exposure. However, the longer you are exposed to asbestos the higher the number of fibers get into your body, thus the higher the chances of developing asbestos health problems. In addition, smokers have a higher risk of developing lung cancer if they are at the same time exposed to asbestos fibers. Also, children stand a higher risk of developing mesothelioma if they are exposed to asbestos fibers.
For these reasons, it is extremely important to have your home inspected to ascertain whether it was constructed with asbestos-containing materials and know the way forward. Reducing the risk of exposure is prudent, it’s the only way to be safe from the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos testing is a process of inspecting and testing a building to ascertain whether there is a presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and their location within the building. The test will determine if there is a presence of the substance and the condition of it. The professional will then recommend ways of managing the risk of asbestos or give a removal recommendation. The test has to be done by a licensed assessor or in some states, a competent person who has been trained in how to handle asbestos and take samples.
Testing is usually carried out to provide a homeowner or a property owner with a clear picture and state of materials used in a building which may not be that apparent to the owner. The professional will first conduct a visual inspection of the building and all of its systems and take several samples from different parts of the house.
The material sample taken is usually sent to the labor for analysis. The lab has to be accredited and approved for asbestos testing. If you are not sure about the accredited labs, you can search online for the list of labs approved for asbestos testing in your local area or state.
The testing exercise must provide sufficient information, a detailed report, a risk assessment information, and a management plan. If you are planning to initiate a renovation, you will be provided with an asbestos register which should be consulted prior to the renovation or demolition work.
If testing results come back positive, the testing professional will give you several options, but in most cases, they recommend removal. Presence of asbestos-containing materials in your home may not pose an immediate threat.
But, there is a possibility that as time passes by, asbestos in your home will eventually become friable and end up breaking down. Thus, if the asbestos testing confirms that there is a presence of asbestos-containing materials in your home, then it’s important to organize for removal as soon as possible.
Asbestos becomes something to worry about when you are planning to undertake a home remodeling project. Or when your home experiences damage as a result of rain, floods, storms, or wind. Something as simple as sanding could end up exposing you to asbestos fibers. This is the reason why asbestos testing is extremely important.
Asbestos testing will determine if your house is safe and free of asbestos. If it has contimated material, then you will need to look for removal services before you proceed with your home renovation project.
Therefore, if you are planning to do a home renovation or a demolition, it’s necessary to carry out an asbestos testing exercise. Asbestos testing is required for any home or building that was built before the 1st of January,1991. You will need an asbestos testing if you are planning to conduct renovation work that will involve the following activities:
You will need to carry out testing if the work you are planning to carry out will involve the following materials:
If you are buying a house or property, you may need to perform testing. This will enable you to know if the house you are about to buy has asbestos containing materials. If the tests come back positive, the material may require removal or management which come as an extra cost to you as the buyer. Therefore, before buying a house, it’s necessary to have this test done to enable you to make an informed decision.
In some cases, or in some states, it might be a government requirement to carry out an asbestos testing before a renovation or a demolition process. It’s always recommended that you check with your local authority in charge of safety regulations and health to know about the requirements.
Nowadays people are aware of the dangers associated with asbestos. Testing is a necessary step that will ensure your safety in that particular building. If you have an older home that was built before the 1980s, it’s important to carry out a test before doing any alteration such as renovations, additions or demolition. In addition, if you are buying a home, particularly an older home, it’s essential to have a test carried out.
You cannot conclude that a particular material has asbestos by simply looking at it. Sampling and testing have to be done to determine the presence of asbestos. The average cost of testing comes to around $520.
Testing cost typically ranges from $250 to $900. The lowest cost you can spend on testing is approximately $90, and the highest cost comes to about $2000.
|Asbestos testing costs|
|National average asbestos testing cost||$520|
If you hire a professional to take samples and have them analyzed in an accredited lab, you should expect to spend around $250 to $750. The inspector will take several samples during the inspection and have them tested.
This mostly happens during inspection when an inspector sees materials in your home that is likely to contain the substance. This kind of testing is usually referred to as onsite sampling.
Air testing involves monitoring asbestos fibers. In this process, the professional will draw an identified volume of air into a filter over a specified period. During the process, air particles will be collected into the filter and will then be examined under a microscope to ascertain whether there is the presence of asbestos fibers in the collected air particles. The air samples are usually collected in different parts of a building.
The professional will calculate the number of these fibers seen in a certain percentage of air collected in a specific area. They will examine all the samples collected and calculate the concentration of all fibers to come up with a concentration of fibers per cubic centimeter of air.
Air testing is usually quite costly as compared to material sample testing. This is because, the method used for air testing; transmission electron microscopy (TEM), normally uses electrons to create patterns of fine crystal images and then analyze the structure or chemical composition of the fibers and particles collected in the air samples.
The cost of asbestos air testing ranges from $400 to $1200.
Offsite sample asbestos is one of cheapest ways top test solid friable materials. Some accredited laborites normally offer a mail-away service for this testing. In this method, you cut a small sample of the suspected material, put it inside a bag and seal it properly. The sample will then be mailed to an accredited laboratory for testing.
Here are some types of materials that should be sent to the lab for testing:
Usually, the lab report takes about one or two weeks. The testing result will be mailed to you. The report will show whether the sample materials you sent out tested positive or negative. Off-site testing will cost you about $50 per material for work that is not needed urgently. But if you urgently need the lab results within 24 hours, expect you to be charged $80. However, you should note that the above costs are for lab tests only, they do not include the mailing costs. Some labs may charge you a lower rate if you have several additional samples.
Dust sample testing is relatively costly. In this method, the lab requires you to collect at least a teaspoonful of settled dust in your home. If you are unable to get a teaspoonful of dust, the lab may allow you to collect the dust using a damp tissue and put in a zip-lock bag.
The sample will be examined under an electron microscope to determine the presence of asbestos fibers. Like the air testing method, dust sample testing is significantly expensive, and it will cost about three times more than the other testing methods. Expect to spend about $225 to $1200 on dust testing.
Testing kits are available for people who want to do DIY testing. Different DIY testing kits may have some slight differences, but generally, the kit consists of detailed instructions, a sample bag, coveralls, disposable gloves, a face mask, waste bag, a plastic sheeting, and sample taking details.
The DIY sampling kits are available at a relatively low price. The cost of a DIY testing kit ranges from $5 to $110. For example, you can purchase Asbestos SL GL Kit at the cost of a few bucks on Amazon which includes the mailing cost and lab fees.
But, when you purchase a DIY sampling kit, you should factor in the additional laboratory testing costs and the mailing charges as some kits come may not include these additional costs in their pricing. In addition, if you are taking several sample materials, you will have to purchase a separate testing kit for each sample.
DIY testing kits are easily available which makes it easy for people who live in areas where its challenging to get accredited testing professionals. However, the challenge of DIY testing kit is that it can be unsafe if you don’t follow the necessary precautions. In fact, DIY test kits require you to have full knowledge of the required safety procedure of which some people may not be aware of.
When you purchase a kit, you will need to make sure you send your samples to an approved laboratory in your region or state which uses the recommended testing techniques to get credible results. Laboratories usually take about two to three weeks to process a complete testing report.
|Type Of Asbestos Testing||Average Cost|
|Off-site lab testing||$50-$80|
|Dust sample testing||$225-$1200|
|DIY asbestos testing kit||$5-$110|
|Asbestos inspection costs||$400-$1000|
Once the testing has been done and the results come back positive, which means the building has asbestos-containing materials, you will need to do a full inspection of the entire building. For this, you need to hire a licensed inspector to perform a full inspection and give you a comprehensive report of the condition of the asbestos in your home, their location, and give you a recommendation and an inspection register.
The cost of inspection varies depending on factors such as the size of your home, and your location. But generally, inspection costs range from $400 to $1000. Inspectors must be licensed or trained by a federal body or by the state on how to carry out a safe inspection. An inspector should provide you with references and the right credentials that show that they have been authorized to perform inspections.
The Environment Protection Agency is extremely strict with the handling of contaminated materials. It has guidelines on inspection and removal which must be followed to the later. The guidelines ensure that the materials are handled safely to reduce the risk of exposure. Normally, its recommended not to use the inspection company for the removal service. After the inspection, you might have to carry out a removal process. Once the removal is done, you will still need anothes inspection to ensure that your home or property is free of contaminated materials.
If you have decided to have your home tested for asbestos, you should consider hiring a licensed or a trained professional to do the testing. There are strict guidelines laid down on how to handle materials that might possibly contain the substance. You should look for an EPA- approved professional who has undergone through testing and removal process and has the proper licensing and credentials to handle and analyze materials suspected to contain the substance.
Even when you chose to collect the samples on your own, you will be required to take the sample material to an EPA accredited lab for testing and analysis. The regulations require that you also give the laboratory the protective gear and the testing kits used to collect samples to ensure proper disposal.
The EPA has a website where they have listed certified professionals who have been trained and licensed to handle asbestos. However, in some states, it’s not mandatory to have a typical single-family home tested by an accredited professional, but in some states, it’s a requirement. If you are not certain about your state’s policies on asbestos handling and an analysis procedure, you should research to find out about the requirements in your region before you proceed with the testing.
The process of testing is likely to disturb the affected area. Remember we mentioned that asbestos might not pose an immediate threat unless the material is disturbed or friable. So, the act of testing can easily interfere with the condition f the material suspected to contain it and potentially become a hazard. Before the testing, you will need to take the necessary precautions to make that everyone around your home will be safe.
Before the testing professional comes for testing, you need to do the following:
✓ You should switch off your air and heating unit, fans, vents, and any other system in your home that can aid in circulating asbestos fibers.
✓ Ensure that you plan early enough for the area to be vacated and make sure no one is around that particular area during the testing. This means need to make arrangements to ensure that your family is not at home during the time of asbestos testing. Look for somewhere else far from your home for your family members to stay when the professional is doing the testing.
When a testing professional comes to your home for the testing process, there are certain protocols that they follow to ensure that the entire area is safe. Anyone around the area of testing will be required to wear the right protective gear which includes coveralls, protective gloves, face mask and boots which will be disposed of once the samples are collected.
Different professionals may use different procedures to collect the samples, but generally, when a professional comes to your home, they will follow the procedures to collect the samples:
✓ Lay a plastic sheeting below the area where they plan to obtain a sample and secure it the sheeting with a tape.
This way, the area will be protected, and in case some particles fall down, they can safely be collected on the sheeting to reduce the risk of spreading the tiny particles all over the area. The plastic sheeting will be removed once the samples are taken, and it will be placed in a tightly sealed bag for proper disposal.
✓ The professional will spray the particular are to be tested with water. The water will dampen the area and minimize the risk of loose asbestos fibers becoming airborne.
✓ After spraying the area, the professional will then use a special tool to cut into the material suspected to contain the substance. The professional will cut a small sample of the substance and carefully place it a tightly sealed container which will later be sent to the laboratory for testing and analysis.
✓ After getting the sample, the professional will then need to patch up the area where they cut into to obtain the sample. The area can be patched with drywall, a tape, or a plastic sheet to ensure that suspected fibers are not loose to fly around the area and spread all of over in your house.
✓ After the samples have been taken, and all the areas where the samples were obtained from are patched up, the professional will collect all the protective gear. The materials will be placed in a bag or containers which then be sealed tightly for proper disposal.
Anything that was used to handle the testing should be placed in a tightly sealed container, and nothing should be left lying around. The process of asbestos testing will disturb the area suspected to contain asbestos material, and so, caution has to be taken as everything around the area of testing could easily get contaminated with asbestos fibers.
√ The sample will be sent to an accredited Laboratory for testing and analysis. If the test comes positive, you can choose to repair the affected area or remove the materials.
Common asbestos materials around your home that may need testing include:
Siding, roofing, and shingles – you are likely to find that roof gutters, shingles, and downpipes in most older homes built before the 1980s were constructed with asbestos cement. These are places you should not try to cut, drill or saw before asbestos testing is done especially if you have a relatively old home.
Ceilings and walls – homes built before the 1980s are likely to have walls and ceilings that are made of asbestos-containing material. In addition, soundproofing materials used back then or textured coating and decorative materials that were sprayed on the ceiling and walls, are also likely to contain the substance.
Water leaks and activities such as frequent vibrations can affect these areas and make the surface become loose thus releasing fibers. If the ceiling starts to age or gets damaged, the materials will become loose, and air movement around the ceiling due to ceiling fans or air conditioning unit can easily aid in spreading the loose asbestos fibers.
Flooring tiles and sheet flooring – the flooring and materials that were commonly used to install floorings such as adhesives and backings are likely to contain the substa. Linoleum floor tiles, thermoplastic and vinyl flooring installed in older homes may have asbestos. Sanding or scraping such floors can be risky as you may end up disturbing the fibers and releasing them into the air.
Other materials include:
Even though there are DIY sampling kits, the idea of DIY asbestos testing is highly discouraged. Asbestos materials if disturbed can be a health risk, and you risk exposing yourself to the loose fibers if you do not follow the right procedures for getting samples. Testing is supposed to be done by someone who has been sufficiently trained in how to handle the material without exposing themselves, the occupants and the building to asbestos fibers. If you have not been trained on how to handle the contaminated materials, you may end up interfering with the surface and disturb the materials and end up breathing the substance.
DIY may save you a significant amount of money on hiring a professional, but the risk may not be worth it. On the other hand, trained, licensed and approved professionals, know how to handle the substance with expertise and knowledge. They know the right procedures to follow to safely collect samples and dispose of materials used in sample collection.
A professional knows how to protect and guard the area to ensure there is no risk of exposure. In addition, professionals know the right places to test. Professional testing services will provide you with lab result within a shorter time than home testing kits. If you want to make sure that your building is tested for asbestos safely, it would be better if you hire an EPA approved and certified professional. More so, with professional testing, you will be assured of conclusive and credible results.
Asbestos materials are carcinogenic and a health hazard. Exposure to fibers from contaminated materials has been linked to various health issues including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. The fibers, when inhaled, lodge into the lungs and may end up scarring and hindering cell growth and lead to various types of cancer. For this reason, the use of asbestos materials in the construction of homes was banned. But, older homes build before 1980s are likely to contain asbestos.
Asbestos was used because of its vast benefits including soundproofing and insulating qualities. It was used as an insulation material for furnaces, pipe and attic insulation. It was used in spayed insulation, roofing tiles, shingles, siding, plaster, floor tiles, etc. If undisturbed, asbestos generally poses no immediate danger. But if you are planning to remodel or carry out construction work in your home, or even a demolition, you should carry out a test. It’s highly advisable that you contact an EPA professional or a trained person to handle the testing and have the samples tested in an approved laboratory.