Have you recently purchased an older home? Did you know that it's possible for your home to still contain asbestos? Although some products containing asbestos are still legal in the United States, some of the more dangerous applications have only been banned since 1989. If your home was built before then, it could still contain many potentially hazardous asbestos products. Before you do any home improvement project, here are some things you should know:
You can't always tell asbestos by simply looking at it: Unless a particular item is clearly labeled, it can be impossible to tell whether or not a product contains asbestos. For example, vinyl flooring was sometimes made with asbestos until 1972. The patterns used for asbestos flooring are very similar or the same as that used by flooring that didn't contain asbestos. Without professional testing, you may not be able to discover whether the tile actually has asbestos or not. If it does contain asbestos, an asbestos abatement company may be the best way to handle the situation.
Asbestos may be in newer items: Some household items may still contain asbestos. You may think that because your roof was installed in the past decade, you have nothing to worry about. If you happen to spring a roof leak after a big storm, you may not think anything of going up to perform a roof repair on your own. However, this may not be the best idea. Some roofing shingles may still contain asbestos fibers. As you rip the damaged ones up so that they can be replaced with new ones, you could be releasing asbestos fibers into the air. Breathing these in while you're working could become a health hazard. If your shingles have a serial number or other identifying information on the back, you should be able to contact the manufacturer to find out if they used asbestos or not. If they did, you may want to consider hiring asbestos abatement professionals to remove the shingles so that you can have a newer roof installed that doesn't contain asbestos.
An ordinary dust mask won't help: You may think that you can simply put on a dust mask and do everything yourself anyway. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A paper dust mask does nothing to filter asbestos fibers out of the air that you breathe. In order to be safe, you would have to purchase and use a properly fitting and potentially expensive respirator that uses replaceable cartridges. Instead of needing to worry about whether you actually have all the proper equipment, it's better for your health and peace of mind to hire a professional to handle the asbestos disposal for you.