Do you have asbestos in your home?

Do you have abestos in your home? This is the question my son in grade 11 asked me the other day after just going back to school. He’s taking carpentry and joininery to get his red seal certificate, something to fall back on after he goes to the fire academy. 

I looked at my son and said: “No, I don’t think so.” That’s when he came out with a slew of information on asbestos and why homes like ours built before 1980 should be checked for the cancer causing mineral. 

So what is asbestos exactly? 

Asbestos are fibres used in homes commonly in Canada prior to 1980 when building. Asbestos can be found in insulation, basement boilers, pipes, attics, vinyl flooring, linoleum, window caulking and glazing, roofing materials, duct insulation, siding, plaster, and ceilings. The minerals making up asbestos were used to make building materials longer lasting and fire retardant.

Why is Asbestos Bad?

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases, such as scarring of the lungs, difficulty breathing, lung cancer and mesothelioma which is a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity.

Canada’s mesothelioma cancer rate is now one of the highest in the world, my son told me. 2.1 of 100,000 Canadians are diagnosed every year with the aggressive disease, according to experts. It’s such a risk that now there is talk about setting up Mesothelioma Trust Funds so that victims can be paid, and heavy litigation can be avoided.

Okay so after hearing this, I kinda freaked a little, but that’s when my son told me as long as materials containing asbestos are tightly bound, in good condition, sealed behind walls and floorboards, isolated and left undisturbed there is no real risk. But what about my popcorn ceilings? One of the worst carriers for asbestos, and found in most older homes like ours. So we took to checking things out.

Jake and I went room to room, looking at the window sills, the attic door latching, the baseboards and even in the storage closets. He taught me to seek out any holes, divots or grooves that could be open and we repaired what we found. I had no idea that so many older homes and so many Canadians in fact, have had to deal with this issue of asbestos.

So what should you do if you discover asbestos in your home?

Don’t touch it! I mean seriously don’t touch it! Touching asbestos can actually create more of it. Apparently wet it down, don’t use your hands, use gloves and call an abatement crew to handle the situation is best. Unlike fibreglass, which you can breathe in and cough out. Asbestos tacks itself to your lungs with it’s tiny fibrous barbs, actually hooking into the lining as you breathe. So the less you breathe it in the better.

All in all, this is pretty scary stuff and I’m glad my son came home interested enough to talk to me about it, to help make sure our home is safe and sound. This first week back to school has been educational and enlightening for me. 

 

11 thoughts on “Do you have asbestos in your home?”

  1. My parents found out that they had asbestos in their home while fixing some water damage last year. It’s not a fun thing to find, especially if it’s already been let into the air. Asbestos is technically only dangerous when it’s disturbed and airborne, but I’d definitely recommend getting it removed as soon as you find it so you can avoid the risk. Thanks for the article.

  2. Asbestos is everywhere in our home even though we cannot see it, we can inhale it and our health is at risk because of the asbestos and we are prone of cancer. So if you find out that you have asbestos in your home better eliminate and dispose it properly. We should take responsibility before it will cause damage to our health.

  3. Many people are surprised to find they have asbestos in their homes but it’s a bit more common than you would think. Great advice for what to do when you find some. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I never knew that asbestos could be found in the siding on your home. Honestly, I haven’t really checked in the siding of my home since I’ve moved in. Like you say, breathing in asbestos can cause cancer. I’m going to check it today so that I can make sure my family is safe.

    1. If you do discover any James, don’t disturb it. But yeah it’s dangerous. You can live with it if it’s not disturbed. But it’s scary to think our homes could be filled with things that can harm us. Our home is supposed to be a safe haven. Thanks for commenting and let us know how it goes. 🙂

  5. Asbestos has never been something that I worried about having in my home. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never given it much though. This helped me see that I need to, and I’m going to get my home checked asap for it.

  6. This is some really good information! Dealing with asbestos is not fun, and it’s no cake walk, but it is very important! Having your home checked for asbestos is a really good idea if you live in a home built in or before the 1980s. If not properly handled, it can release particles that will get deep in the lungs and cause lung disease and even cancer. Thanks for writing!

  7. Thank you for the information on asbestos! I have a home that was built in the 1970s and I’m wanting to do some remodeling, but I’m worried that there is asbestos insulation in the walls. I’ll make sure not to mess with it if I come across it and call an inspection company. Can you explain what asbestos looks like and how to recognize it?

    1. Oh you are welcome Eliza, and yes do not disturb it. Asbestos looks like horse hair and clay mixed together. Tiny fibres, and you will notice it right away. If you do just call someone to come and check it out.

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