Have you heard of this amazing space-age wonder product?
It looks great! It’s fire resistant! You can dance on it all night!
Oh, those were the good old days: Asbestos floor tiles, real lead pencils for school children, the planet Pluto … Of course, we really shouldn’t be so smug about the ignorance of our parents’ generation. Lordie knows what our kids will be mocking us for (I envision something like, “You put THAT in your toothpaste? Geez, everyone knows that causes brain damage!” or “You wiped your butts with what? No wonder so many people had cancer!”)
Regardless of your confidence in modern companies to create safe household products, if your home was built before 1985-ish – and especially if it was built in the 60s and early 70s – there’s a possibility that there’s some asbestos somewhere in there. While it’s not limited to just these products, the most common asbestos carriers are linoleum (like in floors and counters), insulation and popcorn ceilings.
If the material in question is in great condition and you have no plans to replace it, it’s sometimes actually safer to keep it as is than ripping it out (a pro can help you decide what’s safest). Removing construction materials that may include asbestos should not be taken lightly. Fibers can quite easily be released into the air during the process and can stay exposed in your home for quite a while. Your little paper swine flu mask is not nearly enough to protect you from harm.
If you are looking to remodel or renovate your home and there’s any possibility of an asbestos presence, the first thing to do before you pull out any tools is to get your materials tested. Asbestos testing involves gathering a sample and having a lab analyze it. While there are a few DIY “collect-it-yourself” Asbestos Test Kits available, the safest way to deal with potential hazardous and toxic materials is to let the professionals handle it. To find an Asbestos Tester, take a look at Angie’s List. This can cost you anywhere between $75 and $200.
Should the results come back positive (which, really, is a negative), it’s best to hire professionals, again, through the peer-reviewed Angie’s List.. They’ll have the right equipment, safety wear and disposal processes needed to do it right. It’s not cheap, but the health of you and your family is worth it.