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Asbestos: What to Do if You Suspect it's in Your Home

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Published on Nov 1, 2012

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic. Check suspect materials regularly if you think they may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb the material by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.

You cannot tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone.

Removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to a home that will disturb any asbestos containing materials. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by qualified contractors with special training. Improper removal of asbestos containing materials may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

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