Many, or most older houses may have materials that could contain some asbestos, including attics, floors, walls, ceilings, some heating systems and other components. Most of these materials are generally not a concern unless they are damaged, disturbed or made friable so they become airborne. It is beyond the scope & expertise of most home inspectors to determine the presence of asbestos, however I can assist you with this if there are concerns. Oregon inspection law and standards exclude reporting these conditions and materials. Any comments in the inspection report are made only as a courtesy and should not be relied upon to be complete or a warranty. If you have concerns, you are encouraged to contact the state DEQ at: 381 N Second Street Coos Bay, Phone: (541) 269-2721.
Other groups & government agencies:
U.S. EPA: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/
U S Consumer Products Safety Commission: http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/453.html
Mestothelioma Cancer Alliance: http://www.mesothelioma.com/
Pleural Mesothelioma Center: http://www.pleuralmesothelioma.com/
Mesothelioma Prognosis: http://www.mesotheliomaprognosis.org/
Mesothelioma Symptoms: http://www.mesotheliomasymptoms.com/
The articles below are from Fine Homebuilding:
“Many contractors have misled homeowners by claiming that all asbestos-containing materials in homes must be removed,” says Ken Giles, spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This may be true for loose or damaged materials, but the best way to handle asbestos siding is to leave it alone. Shingles contain non friable asbestos, which means that the fibers aren’t released unless they’re sawed, drilled, cut or broken.
Other remedies include encapsulating or covering the siding. To encapsulate, paint the siding with a latex masonry primer and high-quality latex paint. But don’t sand or scrape the shingles. To prepare the siding, just scrub with a soap-and-water solution, then rinse with a hose.
To cover asbestos siding, install insulation board and vinyl siding over the shingles. Make sure screws penetrate at least 3/4 inch into the wall studs.
Removal is the most expensive solution, and should be the last resort unless it’s required by state or local regulations, or if you’re considering a major exterior renovation, such as a large addition. It may be required to use a certified contractor for removal (look under “Asbestos” in the yellow pages). Improper removal may be illegal and increases the health risks to you and your family.
Whether you hate the look or have dirt and stains on your popcorn ceiling, your best option is to remove the old texture and start from scratch. Sprayed acoustic ceilings are notorious dirt and dust collectors, and patching water stains and cracks is almost impossible.
Although only a small percentage of sprayed acoustic ceilings contain asbestos fibers, have a small sample tested before starting work. If the lab gives the all-clear, use a ceiling-texture scraper to remove the old finish. This tool consists of a handle, blade and plastic bag. As you scrape, the bag catches most of the debris, making cleanup easier.
You won’t get a smooth ceiling after you remove the acoustic. Most contractors apply only two coats of joint compound to drywall joints when the ceiling will be covered with a popcorn finish. For a smooth finish, you’ll need to sand and apply a third coat. Then paint with a drywall primer followed by a flat ceiling paint. It hides imperfections better than glossier paints.
If you want to apply a new texture, the simplest is a “knockdown” finish. Thin down some joint compound with water and roll it on the ceiling with a medium-nap paint roller. When the compound is almost dry, run a wide trowel over the surface. The semi smooth surface can be painted with a glossier paint without sacrificing its “hiding” quality.
If asbestos is suspected, you should always contact the local DEQ for guidelines and precautions.
This article was written by Barry Willis with information from the American Lung Association, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.
What is asbestos? How can it affect my health? Where is asbestos found? What should be done if I find it in my home? These are all questions that should be asked when buying a home.
Asbestos is the name given to a naturally occurring mineral that was mined for its useful properties in insulating and fireproofing. There are three main types: chrysotile, or white asbestos; amosite, or brown asbestos, and crocidolite, or blue asbestos. While chrysotile is the most common type found in buildings (90 – 95%), amosite and crocidolite can also be found, primarily in commercial or industrial buildings. Until the 1970s asbestos was commonly found in most building materials. Today, anything containing asbestos must be labeled and used with extreme caution.
Made of microscopic bundles of fibers, asbestos particles are so small and light they have been known to stay airborne in a vacuum-sealed room for up to seventy-two hours. A “safe level” of exposure has not yet been determined, although we know the longer one has been exposed to the material, the higher the risk is. Among the diseases caused by exposure to asbestos are asbestosis, mesotheliona, and lung cancer.
Asbestosis is caused when fibers are inhaled and become trapped in the lung tissue. The body tried to dissolve the fibers by sending an acid to the area. Because of the resistance of the fiber, the acid does little to the asbestos and instead severely scars the lung tissue to the point of impairing lung function. Mesothelioma, often called “Steve McQueen disease,” is the hardening of the lining of the lung (pleura) and chest cavity. Cancer of the lungs or gastrointestinal tract is no less forgiving and can be greatly increased by cigarette smoking (about 50%). The latency period for all of these diseases varies from ten to forty years.
There are numerous places in older homes where you may find asbestos. Insulation or fireproofing, whether on piping, boilers or ducts are common areas, especially if the home was built during the early 1900s through the 1970s. Gaskets, floor and ceiling tiles, cement board and pipe, wall-joint compound, shingles and siding are some of the more common products containing asbestos, as well as brake and clutch linings, stove-top pads, ironing-board covers and even some hair dryers. There are many materials containing asbestos found in homes. These can be maintained in order to pose no risk to you and your family.
Although asbestos is a potential carcinogen, it is only a risk if it is “friable,” meaning it can be crushed with hand pressure. If it is in a “non-friable” state, it should left alone, monitored and/or encapsulated with a liquid-vinyl type of covering that dries to a hard protective coating.
You cannot tell whether a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it. If you suspect or have any doubts about a particular material, treat it as if it is asbestos until a sample can be analyzed by a professional.
Before beginning a remodeling project in an older home is a good time for any testing and will save you undue risks and problems further along in your project. Your local health department and the EPA are good sources to find labs and to tell you what corrective action should be taken.
STATEMENT BY THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION: The statements in this article are based in part upon the results of a workshop concerning asbestos in the home which was sponsored by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Lung Association (ALA). The sponsors believe that this 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 article 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.