Worried you may have asbestos in your house? Wondering what you should do about it?

We asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Lung Association for help in answering these questions.

We know: What To Do About Asbestos

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that, at one time, was added to a variety of products to increase strength, provide heat insulation and fire resistance. It can only be positively identified with a microscope.

Where might asbestos be found in my home?

Until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Most products today do not contain asbestos.

Before that time, asbestos was used in various products, including (but not limited to):

  • roofing and siding shingles
  • insulation
  • textured paint and patching compounds
  • artificial ashes and embers used for gas-fired fireplaces
  • stove-top pads
  • vinyl floor tiles, vinyl flooring and adhesives
  • the coating, tape or blanket found on hot water and steam pipes
  • insulation on oil and coal furnaces
  • protective paper, millboard or cement sheets found in the walls or floors around wood-burning stoves

How concerned should I be if I think something in my home contains asbestos?

Usually the best thing to do is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone, according to the EPA. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fiber. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled.

If material that contains asbestos is slightly damaged, avoid the area and donít touch or disturb it. If it is more than slightly damaged, you need to contact a professional for help in determining what to do.

What if I want to remodel an area of my home that may contain asbestos?

If youíre unsure whether the area contains asbestos materials, have it sampled and analyzed by a professional.

If you do have an asbestos-containing area in your house, and you want to remodel the area, you need to contact a professional for help.

How are damaged areas containing asbestos usually repaired?

The asbestos is either removed or repaired by a professional. If it is repaired, the professional generally seals the area or encloses it.

REMEMBER: Donít saw, sand, scrape or drill holes into asbestos materials and donít dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.

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