Information on Asbestos in the Home
Asbestos describes a group of fibrous minerals that can only be positively identified by trained experts utilizing special microscopes. We know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer and other health issues. See “How Can Asbestos Affect My Health?” below. Asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen and provide heat insulation and fire resistance. See “Where Can I Find Asbestos And When Can It Be A Problem?” below. Many homes, schools and commercial buildings constructed prior to the 1980s used material containing asbestos.
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don’t panic. Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone and it will not release asbestos fibers. If you suspect areas may contain asbestos, check it regularly for changes. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. See “Asbestos Do’s and Don’ts for the Homeowner” below. If a remodeling or repair project to an older home is planned or if an area with asbestos has been disturbed, please be aware asbestos exposure is possible. Your home should be tested for asbestos prior to the renovation.
J3 Resources, Inc. can tell you if you have asbestos in your home. Send us a sample of the material in question for a professional unbiased analysis. For instructions on how to take a sample of material that might contain asbestos fibers, see “How to Identify Materials That Contain Asbestos“ below. Label each sample and put into a sealed plastic bag (one bag per sample). Send the samples to J3 Resources, Inc. along with a sample submittal form and payment information. Send by U.S. mail or delivery service to arrive Monday-Friday, or stop by during business hours 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. See Contact Us for location.
Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found In The Home
Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
9 Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.
Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
6 Walls and floors around woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
Asbestos Do’s and Don’ts for the Homeowner
- Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
- Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
- Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
- Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
- Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
- Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floorcovering over it, if possible.
- Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.
Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos.
Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.
Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed. If you nevertheless choose to do minor repairs, you should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before doing anything. Contact your state or local health department or regional EPA office for information about asbestos training programs in your area. Your local school district may also have information about asbestos professionals and training programs for school buildings. Even if you have completed a training program, do not try anything more than minor repairs. Before undertaking minor repairs, carefully examine the area around the damage to make sure it is stable. As a general matter, any damaged area which is bigger than the size of your hand is not a minor repair.
Before undertaking minor repairs, be sure to follow all the precautions described earlier for sampling asbestos material. Always wet the asbestos material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent. Commercial products designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas are available. Small areas of material such as pipe insulation can be covered by wrapping a special fabric, such as rewettable glass cloth, around it. These products are available from stores (listed in the telephone directory under Safety Equipment and Clothing”) which specialize in asbestos materials and safety items.
REMOVAL is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may increase the health risks to you and your family.
Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These steps will disturb tiny asbestos fibers and may release them into the air. Remove dust by wet mopping or with a special HEPA vacuum cleaner used by trained asbestos contractors.
For More Information
Contact your local American Lung Association at their website at www.lungusa.org for copies of:
- Indoor Air Pollution Fact Sheet – Asbestos
- Air Pollution In Your Home?
- Other publications on indoor pollution
For more information on asbestos in other consumer products, call the CPSC Hotline or write to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC 20207. The CPSC Hotline has information on certain appliances and products, such as the brands and models of hair dryers that contain asbestos. Call CPSC at 1-800-638-CPSC. A teletypewriter (TTY) for the hearing impaired is available at (301) 595-7054. The Maryland TTY number is 1-800-492-8104.
To find out whether your state has a training and certification program for asbestos removal contractors, and for information on EPA’s asbestos programs, call the EPA at 202-554-1404.
For more information on asbestos identification and control activities, contact the Asbestos Coordinator in the EPA Regional Office for your region, or your state or local health department.
CPSC documents are in the public domain; a CPSC document may be reproduced without change in part or whole by an individual or organization without permission. If it is reproduced, however, the Commission would appreciate knowing how it is used. Write the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Information and Public Affairs, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814 or send an e-mail via CPSC’s Online Form.
All CPSC publications – including exclusive web-only content – are available to consumers to print for free from their home, school or office computers. To order hard copies of any of the Neighborhood Safety Library Publications or Technical Reports and Handbooks, please e-mail CPSC. Be sure to include your mailing address, and specify the document number and name of the publication desired. Please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals – contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go online to: www.saferproducts.gov, call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain this news release and product safety information at www.cpsc.gov. To join a free e-mail subscription list, please go to https://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.
This document may be reproduced without change, in whole or in part, without permission, except for use as advertising material or product endorsement. Any such reproduction should credit the American Lung Association, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The use of all or any part of this document in a deceptive or inaccurate manner or for purposes of endorsing a particular product may be subject to appropriate legal action.
Statement by the American Lung Association: The Statements in this brochure are based in part upon the results of a workshop concerning asbestos in the home which was sponsored by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Lung Association (ALA). The sponsors believe that this brochure provides an accurate summary of useful information discussed at the workshop and obtained from other sources. However, ALA did not develop the underlying information used to create the brochure and does not warrant the accuracy and completeness of such information. ALA emphasizes that asbestos should not be handled, sampled, removed or repaired by anyone other than a qualified professional.
Introduction to Mold
Molds release tiny spores in order to reproduce. These spores waft continually throughout the indoor and outdoor air. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors mold growth will occur, especially if the moisture problem remains un-discovered or un-addressed. When these mold spores land indoors on a damp spot, they may begin growing and digesting whatever surface they land on in order to survive. There are numerous types of molds that can grow on a variety of surfaces such as wood, paper, carpet, and foods. There is no practical way to eliminate all molds and mold spores in the indoor environment; the best way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
Usually indoor molds are not a problem, unless these spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin to grow; then they can have the potential to cause many health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include: hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing; runny nose; red eyes; and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are very common; they can be both immediate and delayed.
Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold.
Since there are no EPA established limits for safe levels of mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s or home’s compliance with federal mold standards. Additionally, sampling indoor air for the presence of mold spores requires trained professionals with special sample equipment. However, surface sampling may be useful to determine if a questionable area contains mold or has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations. J3 Resources, Inc. is accredited by AIHA for the analysis of mold samples and complies with current ASTM methods.
Homeowners can test areas in their home suspected of mold contamination in the following manner:
Remove a small piece of the contaminated material (wallpaper, texture, paint, drywall, carpet, etc) and place in a zip lock bag and send directly to J3 along with the Homeowners Chain of Custody (COC) for analysis.
A “tape lift” sample can be collected by gently touching the area suspected of mold contamination with an approximately 2-inch long piece of adhesive tape. This tape can then be adhered to the inside of a ‘zipper-type’ plastic bag and mailed to J3 along with the Homeowners Chain of Custody (COC) for analysis.
Results of the analysis will be sent directly by email according to the time frame requested on the sample submittal form. Prices differ based on the time frame marked.
The following is an EPA guidance document that contains pertinent information about controlling mold and mold spores in the home.
Homeowner Resource Links
State and Federal Agencies
Asbestos Disease Related Organizations
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