How to Recognize Asbestos
If you live in a home built or remodeled before 1990, there is a chance that your walls, ceilings, and floor could be harboring asbestos. Asbestos is a fibrous material that was used in buildings prior to 1990 and accounted for over 70% of homes built at the time. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is heat, electrical, and corrosion-resistant.
However, it was later discovered that years of exposure to asbestos fibers and asbestos containing materials, could result in a type of cancer known as mesothelioma. If your home was built before 1990, you should know how to recognize asbestos so you can promptly remove it from your home.
The different types of asbestos
The first step of battling asbestos exposure is finding out whether you have any in your home (or your vehicle!). Here are some places where asbestos might be lurking and how to recognize it:
Insulation: Asbestos insulation and building material in your walls and ceiling is composed of grayish-brown or silvery-gold pebbles that resemble tiny stones. When in place, asbestos insulation is loose and lumpy in appearance with a granular and somewhat fluffy texture.
Brake dust: Another product that contained asbestos are brake pads. Following the identification of the health risks of asbestos, it was still used to manufacture brake pads into the 2000s. In fact, some aftermarket brake pads still contain the dangerous substance. That being said, you should take necessary precautions when changing the brake pads on your car.
Drywall: In the past, asbestos was commonly mixed into drywall. It’s important if you work around drywall or plan on renovating your older home that you take the necessary precautions when doing so, including wearing a respirator in case there is asbestos in your drywall or other building materials.
Floor tiles: Asbestos could also be in tile; however, it is unlikely to be hazardous unless it’s disturbed (ie. pulling up the tiles for a renovation). The most popular size for asbestos floor tiles was 9-inch by 9-inch, though there are some 12-inch and 18-inch square asbestos tiles installed in older homes as well. Tile that contains asbestos can develop a stained or oily appearance due to the asphalt that was also used in asbestos tiles.
Popcorn ceiling: Whether or not your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos fibers is impossible to discern without sending a sample to an EPA-accredited lab for testing; however if you have a house built after 1978, it is unlikely your popcorn ceiling contains asbestos.
Pipe insulation: If you have old insulated pipes in your home, then the insulating material may contain asbestos. To determine this, look for insulation that is white-gray and resembles corrugated paper or honeycomb.
If your home contains asbestos, it’s best to hire asbestos professionals. Asbestos is the most dangerous when it is being disturbed so handling asbestos materials on your own is extremely unadvisable.