Asbestos: Home & Property Owners

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Keep Your Family Safe

There’s probably nowhere that you feel as safe and secure as you do in your own home.

You take preventative measures to keep it in good condition and to keep your family safe.  But how can you be safe from something you may not know exists in your home?  Something that could cause you to get respiratory illnesses, or even cancer.  That “something” is called Asbestos and it is commonly found in homes built before 1980. Naturally, you have questions.  “How do I know if MY home contains asbestos?  What does it look like?  Where would it be?  What should I do?”

DON’T panic.  Asbestos only becomes dangerous when it is damaged and its fibers are released into the air.  If you do have asbestos in your home it doesn’t automatically mean that your health is in danger or that the air in your home is contaminated with asbestos fibers. Asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition and well secured may not cause problems.


DO become informed.  If your home was built prior to 1980, be aware that it could contain asbestos.  Before any home improvements or remodeling takes place be aware of common household materials it may exist in, such as   

  • pipe and furnace insulation materials
  • asbestos and cement shingles, siding, and roofing
  • millboard
  • resilient floor tiles, the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and floor tile adhesives
  • soundproofing or decorative material, i.e., popcorn ceilings
  • patching and joint compound
  • fireproof gloves and stove-top pads, and
  • automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings, and gaskets.

Have the material tested.  By a professional.  If it is confirmed that asbestos is present, don’t do the work yourself.  Use a qualified, licensed, asbestos professional.  Anything less is a big risk, not worth taking.

Inspection

If you are planning to remodel your home (remodeling can disturb building materials), or your home has damaged building materials (such as crumbling drywall or insulation that is falling apart) you may want to have your home inspected.  This should be done by a trained and accredited asbestos professional who will take samples for lab analysis.   Although home test kits can be purchased at home improvement stores, taking samples yourself is not recommended, as even the smallest release of fibers can be dangerous.  A professional knows what to look for, and how to safely take samples.  If done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone.  To schedule an inspection, call us at 515-331-1690 or 888-710-1315.

Use Licensed Professionals

An asbestos professional hired to assess the need for asbestos repair or removal should not be connected with the asbestos firm that does the actual repair or removal of materials. It is best to use two different companies so there is no conflict of interest.

Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal- or state-approved training. Each person performing work should provide proof of accreditation to do asbestos work.  You can view a complete list of Iowa’s licensed asbestos professionals to further confirm your contractor’s credentials.

FAQ's

Since asbestos was banned, do I need to be worried about products on the market today containing asbestos? 

On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) banning most asbestos-containing products in the United States. In 1991, the rule was vacated and remanded by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, most of the original ban on the manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce for most of the asbestos-containing product categories originally covered in the 1989 final rule was overturned.  Only the bans on corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt and any new uses of asbestos remained banned under the 1989 rule.  Although most asbestos containing products can still legally be manufactured, imported, processed and distributed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the production and use of asbestos has declined significantly.


How do I know if I have asbestos in my home (in floor tile, ceiling tile, shingles, siding, etc.)? 

The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory.  EPA only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material.  Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector).


I’m remodeling my home. Do I need to be concerned about asbestos in the building materials? 

It’s not possible for you to tell whether a material in your home contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If you suspect a material within your home might contain asbestos (for example floor tile, ceiling tile or old pipe wrap) and the material is damaged (fraying or falling apart) or if you are planning on performing a renovation that would disturb the material, the EPA recommends that you have it sampled by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector).  The professional then should use a qualified laboratory to perform the asbestos analysis.  Also, you may learn more about whether the replacement materials you intend to install might possibly contain asbestos by reading the product labels, calling the manufacturer, or by asking if your retailer can provide you with the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product(s) in question.


What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my home, building, apartment, or school? 

Asbestos that is in good condition and left undisturbed is unlikely to present a health risk.  The risks from asbestos occur when it is damaged or disturbed where asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled. Managing asbestos in place and maintaining it in good repair is often the best approach.


My child’s school has asbestos in it. Why aren’t they taking it out? 

Local education agencies (e.g., school districts) are required under the asbestos-containing materials in schools rule, pursuant to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to inspect for and manage asbestos containing materials properly through the development and implementation of an asbestos management plan.  The local education agency can safely and effectively “manage in place” asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition. The risk from asbestos is when it is damaged and/or disturbed and asbestos fibers become airborne where they can be inhaled. If the local education agency does perform a “response action” or an asbestos abatement, they must use properly trained and accredited asbestos professionals to do this work. Local education agencies are required to undertake timely and appropriate maintenance or response actions whenever asbestos-containing materials become friable.