Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause serious health problems if inhaled or ingested. It was widely used in construction and insulation materials until the 1980s, when its dangers became more widely known. If you live in an older home, you may wonder if you have asbestos in your house and if so, how to get rid of it safely. You may also wonder if your home insurance policy will cover the cost of asbestos removal and remediation.
In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will explain what asbestos is, why it is dangerous, how to detect it, how to remove it, and how much it costs. We will also discuss whether home insurance covers asbestos removal and under what circumstances. Finally, we will give you some tips on how to prevent asbestos exposure and protect your health.
What Is Asbestos and Why Is It Dangerous?
Asbestos is a natural mineral composed of soft, flexible fibers that are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals. It has many useful properties, such as insulation, sound absorption, and fireproofing. However, it also has a dark side: when asbestos fibers are disturbed or damaged, they can become airborne and enter the lungs or digestive system of anyone nearby. This can cause inflammation, scarring, and genetic damage that can lead to various diseases, such as:
- Asbestosis: a chronic lung disease that causes difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, and reduced lung function.
- Lung cancer: a malignant tumor that forms in the lung tissue and can spread to other organs.
- Mesothelioma: a rare but aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, abdomen, or heart.
- Other cancers: such as laryngeal cancer (throat), ovarian cancer, or gastrointestinal cancer.
These diseases may not show up for years or even decades after exposure to asbestos. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos at work, and more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases.
How Can I Tell If There Is Asbestos in My House?
Asbestos was commonly used in various building materials and household products until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when its use was banned or restricted in many countries due to its health risks. However, some asbestos-containing materials may still be present in older homes or buildings that were built or renovated before the regulations came into effect.
Some of the places where you may find asbestos in your house include:
- Exterior siding
- Roofing shingles
- Insulation (in walls, attics, pipes, boilers, etc.)
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Plaster or drywall
It is not possible to identify asbestos by sight or touch alone. The only way to confirm its presence is by taking a sample and sending it to a laboratory for testing. If you suspect you have asbestos in your house, do not attempt to handle or disturb it yourself. This could release harmful fibers into the air and increase your risk of exposure. Instead, contact a licensed asbestos inspector or consultant who can perform a professional assessment and advise you on the best course of action.
How Can I Remove Asbestos from My House?
If you have confirmed that there is asbestos in your house and it is in good condition and not damaged or disturbed, you may not need to remove it at all. In fact, leaving it alone may be safer than trying to remove it. However, if the asbestos is deteriorating or likely to be disturbed by renovation or repair work, you should consider having it removed by a qualified professional.
Asbestos removal is a complex and hazardous process that requires special equipment, training, and safety precautions. It involves sealing off the contaminated area, wearing protective gear (such as respirators, gloves, goggles), wetting the asbestos materials to prevent dust formation, carefully cutting or scraping them off the surfaces, placing them in sealed bags or containers for disposal, cleaning up any remaining debris or dust with HEPA vacuums or wet wipes, and conducting air monitoring tests to ensure no fibers are left behind.
Asbestos removal should never be attempted by amateurs or DIY enthusiasts. Doing so could endanger your health and the health of anyone else in your house. It could also violate local or federal regulations that govern how asbestos should be handled and disposed of. You could face fines or legal action if you do not follow the proper procedures.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor who has the experience, skills, and credentials to perform the job safely and effectively. They will also be able to provide you with documentation and certification that the work was done according to the standards and guidelines.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove Asbestos from My House?
The cost of asbestos removal depends on several factors, such as:
- The size and location of the area to be treated
- The type and condition of the asbestos materials
- The complexity and duration of the work
- The labor and equipment costs
- The disposal fees
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of asbestos removal in the United States is about $2,049, with a typical range between $1,000 and $3,000. However, the cost can vary widely depending on your specific situation. For example, removing asbestos from a small section of pipe insulation may cost only a few hundred dollars, while removing asbestos from an entire roof or wall may cost tens of thousands of dollars.
To get a more accurate estimate of how much it will cost to remove asbestos from your house, you should contact several reputable asbestos abatement contractors in your area and ask them for quotes. Compare their prices, services, and reviews, and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Does Home Insurance Cover Asbestos Removal?
Home insurance is designed to protect your house and personal belongings from unexpected events or disasters, such as fire, theft, storm, or vandalism. However, it does not cover everything. In fact, most home insurance policies exclude coverage for pollutants, such as asbestos. This means that if you need to remove asbestos from your house for any reason, you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.
The only exception is if the asbestos was released or disturbed by a covered peril, such as a tree falling on your house, snow damaging your roof, or someone vandalizing your walls. In this case, your home insurance may cover the cost of asbestos remediation as part of your home’s repairs. However, this is not guaranteed. Some insurance companies may still deny or limit your claim based on the wording of your policy or the circumstances of the event.
Therefore, it is important that you read your policy carefully and understand what it covers and what it does not. If you have any questions or doubts, contact your insurance agent or company and ask them to clarify. You may also want to consider adding an endorsement or rider to your policy that specifically covers asbestos removal in case you ever need it. This may increase your premium slightly, but it could save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
How Can I Prevent Asbestos Exposure and Protect My Health?
Asbestos exposure can have serious consequences for your health and well-being. Therefore, it is essential that you take steps to prevent it and protect yourself and your family from its harmful effects. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- If you live in an older home or building that may contain asbestos, have it inspected by a professional before you start any renovation or repair work.
- If you find out that there is asbestos in your house and it is in good condition and not damaged or disturbed, leave it alone. Do not touch it or try to remove it yourself.
- If you need to remove asbestos from your house for any reason, hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor who can do the job safely and properly.
- If you are exposed to asbestos at work or elsewhere, follow the safety guidelines and regulations provided by your employer or authorities. Wear protective gear (such as respirators, gloves, goggles), wash your hands and clothes thoroughly after exposure, and avoid bringing any dust or fibers home with you.
- If you have any symptoms or signs of asbestos-related diseases (such as shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing up blood), see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your chances of recovery and survival.
The Bottom Line!
Asbestos is a dangerous material that can cause serious health problems if inhaled or ingested. It was widely used in construction and insulation materials until the 1980s when its use was banned or restricted in many countries due to its health risks. However, some asbestos-containing materials may still be present in older homes or buildings that were built or renovated before the regulations came into effect.
If you live in an older home or building that may contain asbestos, you should have it inspected by a professional before you start any renovation or repair work. If you need to remove asbestos from your house for any reason, you should hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor who can do the job safely and properly.
Home insurance typically does not cover asbestos removal unless it was caused by a covered peril, such as a storm or fire. You may want to consider adding an endorsement or rider to your policy that specifically covers asbestos removal in case you ever need it.
Asbestos exposure can have serious consequences for your health and well-being. Therefore, it is essential that you take steps to prevent it and protect yourself and your family from its harmful effects. Follow the safety guidelines and regulations, wear protective gear, seek medical attention if needed, and consult a lawyer if you have a claim.
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease (such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma), seek legal advice from an experienced attorney who can help you file a claim for compensation from the parties responsible for your exposure.