Know Asbestos Before Tackling a Green Remodel

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Motivated to get our homes on the green end of the spectrum, it’s easy to want to dive right into the project. But before you start ripping out paneling and replacing your roof, it’s important to have all your roofing questions answered in a safe way, which you can contact the Roofing Repair Company for this, and to be mindful of hazards like the deadly substance that could be lurking underneath.

We’re talking about asbestos, a naturally ­occurring group of minerals used extensively in the 19th and 20th century as fireproof building material. Banned in most developed countries, asbestos is still a commonly found in buildings in the United States, and prolonged exposure to certain forms has been irrefutably linked to terminal and rare forms of lung cancers.

Learning a little about the history of asbestos will help you understand its risks if it is a component of your home’s construction. Long story short, the fireproof qualities of asbestos have been known for more than 4000 years, but only in the last 200 did technology allow for the mass-­mining of asbestos minerals to be used in the exponential amount of construction and manufacturing going on ever since.

The dangerous effects of prolonged exposure to asbestos are rumored to have been observed by the ancients, but they were undoubtedly recognized by doctors and scientists by the early 20th century. Despite this awareness, another eight decades went by before any official government action occurred to try and regulate asbestos use. EPA regulations on asbestos were first established in 1989 only to be greatly crippled by the federal courts several years later. Ever since, it’s been a constant tug­-of-­war between industry powers and government regulators regarding whether or not to bring the United States up to speed with the rest of the developed world.

So where does that leave homeowners who have asbestos in their homes? For the time, being you can take a deep breath — literally. Undisturbed asbestos in a steady state between walls and on the roof is unlikely to lead to any untimely deaths. However, complications arise when the asbestos components of the home are jostled. Enter the green home remodel. Typically we want to better insulate the walls and rework the roof, two things which would put a worker in direct contact with asbestos-­laden material.

While even a week­long project with reckless exposure isn’t going to compare to the “snowy” asbestos-packed work environments most associated with the terrible cancers that form later in life, the risks are too much for anyone to go about home improvement without proper protection and knowledge. Especially if their intent is to make a more Earth-­friendly environment within the home. Again, if you want to have the best, easy-to-contact, and on the go services in case of emergencies, you can contact emergency roof repair in Minneapolis.

The important thing to know is that asbestos is dangerous when inhaled. This means drilling into, hammering, or cracking asbestos-­laden materials is putting these dangerous particles into the air and possibly into your body. This can be remedied with a respirator mask, however it’s always preferred to work gently with these materials as much as possible. When in doubt, call in a professional to at least assess the situation for you.

It’s good to be eager to make your home a greener place to be. But tread cautiously, as you are likely to become exposed to asbestos at some point if you choose to do the green remodeling yourself. Know the history, understand the risks, and take the precautions to reduce the level of danger down to zero.

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3 comments… add one
  • Greg January 28, 2015, 1:14 pm

    Your good advise. It’s also wise to avoid sanding old paint with lead in it. The photo you chose caught my eye. I like the rustic and solid look of old rough cut timber.

  • Jordan February 13, 2015, 3:44 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! Very informative. It’s important to keep hazards like this in mind when DIY-ing.

  • Savvy Brown February 17, 2015, 4:03 pm

    Excellent post. My home is over 100 years old, and I had to have lead abated before I bought it. I am lucky that asbestos was not used much in brownstone walls of that age. If I ever have to tear off the roof however, I’m sure it will be an issue. 🙂

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