When searching for a new home, it is important to be aware of potential dangers to your family. Although older homes are often elegant and visually appealing, they may have been constructed with materials containing asbestos. Here are some reasons why it is not a good idea to purchase homes containing significant amounts of asbestos.
Where Asbestos Is Found
Although the use of asbestos-containing materials is strictly regulated in the construction of modern homes, many older homes contain large amounts of asbestos. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, asbestos was considered a highly useful construction material, and until 1980 it was used extensively in paint, roofing, ceiling and floor tiles, putties, caulks, cements, plaster, joint compounds, as well as insulation for furnaces, walls, ceilings, stoves, ovens, and hot water and steam pipes. The only way to know for sure how much asbestos an older home contains is to have a professional asbestos inspector take samples for testing.
Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos in building materials is not dangerous if left undisturbed. However, building materials deteriorate and crumble over time. In addition, sometimes homeowners disturb asbestos-containing materials by sanding, sawing, scraping, drilling holes, renovating or remodeling.
When asbestos fibers are released into the air and you or your family members breathe them in, they become lodged in the lungs and other organs, leading to inflammation and scarring. This leads to serious asbestos-related diseases. Lung cancer creates tumors that block air passages. Asbestosis leads to scarring that makes it difficult to breathe. Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos, damages the mesothelium, the tissue lining your lungs, heart, stomach and other organs.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Asbestos-Related Diseases
These diseases often take years to develop, and by the time they are diagnosed, they are often in advanced stages that are very difficult to treat. Diagnosis includes a thorough medical examination, analysis of a patient’s medical history and past exposure to asbestos, imaging tests such as x-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans, blood tests, and biopsies. Treatment depends on the extent of the disease, but it might include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.
Dealing With Asbestos in the Home
If you already own a home that has asbestos-containing materials, you have several options. If the material is undamaged, it is best to leave it alone. If it has begun to deteriorate or is accidentally damaged, sometimes sealing or covering it is possible. Sealing, or encapsulation, involves coating the asbestos-containing material with a sealant to prevent the fibers from escaping. Covering involves placing a wrapping or jacket around the outside of the material to contain the asbestos fibers.
However, if you are planning remodeling or other major home changes, the asbestos-containing materials may need to be removed. Asbestos professionals must wear special clothing, gloves and respirators, have special equipment, and follow legally-mandated guidelines when they break apart, contain, and remove asbestos from homes.
If you are suffering from pleural mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases due to exposure to asbestos in your older home, besides seeing your doctor for treatment, you should contact a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma claims so you can get the compensation you deserve.
This article was contributed on behalf of Shrader & Associates L.L.P., your number one choice when looking for representation for cases involving asbestos and mesothelioma. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!