Asbestos is a menace. This once-ubiquitous material—used for everything from fireproofing to Christmas decorations—is no longer be included in everyday items, which makes many people feel that asbestos is no longer a danger. But like a hungry ghost or a long-dormant volcano, asbestos lurks just beneath surface of many people’s lives, waiting to burst forth and wreak havoc.
If you own an older home, you need to know the risks associated with asbestos, and you need to know how to detect asbestos. Here are some frequent places in which asbestos likes to hide.
First, a Warning
Do not handle asbestos on your own, and do not go looking for asbestos. Yes, it’s important to know how to identify asbestos, and knowing its lurking spots could save your life, but that does not mean you should hunt for it. Asbestos is deadly. Even a small amount of exposure could leave you with mesothelioma—thousands of people contract the disease yearly, according to Belluck & Fox. . DIY repairs can be fun and economical, but in the case of asbestos removal, you need to hire a professional.
Fire-Proofing and Electrical Insulation
Fire-proofed objects and insulating cloths are among the most frequent locations of asbestos. Luckily, they seem to be danger spots people know most about. The public information campaigns about asbestos danger successfully alerted most people of the common locations of asbestos.
This state of affairs, in which hundreds of thousands of buildings contain asbestos in spite of public awareness, is evidence of the substance’s former prevalence. For nearly a century, asbestos was everywhere. By the time scientists discovered the danger, it was too late. The only way to rid the United States of this profoundly dangerous material would be tear down over 700,000 buildings. That just wasn’t going to happen.
Most of these buildings are still standing. Your home could be one them. Take a look at the Consumer Safety Product Commission’s website to see what to do if you find asbestos in your home.
But fire and electrical safety equipment aren’t the place in which asbestos is found. Many ceiling products contain asbestos. Keep an eye out for panels, tiles, plasters, etc.; according to the MN Department of Health, these objects, too, are frequent sites of asbestos.
Asbestos was often placed in walls, again as a tool to repel fires. When doing any home wall repairs, be on the lookout. Stop at the first sign of asbestos and call a professional.
Old Toys and Decorations
Perhaps the most absurd (to modern eyes) use of asbestos was as a child’s toy. This carcinogen, with its pale color and fluffy appearance, was commonly used in Christmas decorations and other wholesome-seeming objects as fake snow. Basements across the world contain trunks and chests filled with old memories and the seeds of lung cancer. Do not your children go digging into old winter-themed toys unless you’ve checked asbestos.
Where to Learn More?
Most governments have easily accessible sites dedicated to asbestos risk. The United States, Canada, and Great Britain all provide solid information about the appearance and risks associated with this lethal substance.