Asbestos—Tiny, Risky and Not Just Yesterday’s Problem

Source: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Safety is an important part of daily life; the physical environment around us at work and home may be something to be aware of if it was built or renovated before 1980. Asbestos was used in many ways from the 1920s to the 1970s, including in construction and building materials, and is mistakenly thought of as a problem of the past. However, any space is at risk of having some asbestos-containing materials present, so it’s important to know the risks and how best to handle it.

Places and items where asbestos was commonly used:
  • Popcorn ceilings
  • 9×9 and 12×12 inch tiling and adhesives used in tiling
  • Window casings and insulation
  • Pipe insulation
  • Brake pads and automotive parts
  • Insulation around furnaces or boilers

Asbestos is dangerous because the fibers are so tiny they can only be seen with a microscope. When asbestos is contained in undamaged items, it usually is not dangerous. But when they are broken, like in demolition, cleaning or replacement, the tiny asbestos fibers can break off into the air and people can inhale them.

These fibers can also be carried on hair or clothing, adding to the risk of exposing others after the fact. Over many years, these fibers can stay inside the body, most often in the lungs, and cause health issues like scarring and even tumors. In some cases, these tumors can become a cancer called mesothelioma.

Avoiding exposure is the only way to prevent illnesses caused by asbestos, so taking precautions is important for health. For those over 62, they can apply for a grant through the USDA:

Finding a licensed professional and letting them carry out all testing and removal is the best option, since no level of exposure to asbestos is safe.

For those who might have structures close to public areas or those where municipal/government areas might be close or affected can look into a CDBG grant through HUD.