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What is asbestos? Asbestos is the generic name given to a group of minerals that tend to break down into a dust of microscopic size fibers. Asbestos has been used since early roman times and nearly 30 million tons have been used in the United States since the turn of the century. Its superior durability and resistance to heat have made it a main component in literally thousands of building materials.

The use of asbestos was extremely common in homes built before 1970. Today many asbestos materials are no longer allowed for indoor construction use. Some of the items that may contain asbestos in your home include older floor tile, acoustic ceiling tiles or coverings, roofing materials, exterior siding, insulation, joint compound, textured paint, door gaskets, fireproof boards and pipe insulation. (The material around pipes that is white or gray in color resembling plaster used in casts to protect broken bones and found in older homes with insulation dates between 1930-and 1972). Additionally, flues around wood burning stoves, wall and ceiling insulation, and loose blown-in and batt insulation have been known to contain asbestos, especially in homes built or remodeled between 1930 and 1950.

asbestosAsbestos is so dangerous because inhaled microscopic fibers remain in the body forever and are impossible to remove. It is unknown the exact amount, but if inhaled there is the possibility of developing lung cancer, mesotheilioma or asbestestosis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration there is no safe level of exposure known. The size of asbestos fibers are too small to be seen with the human eye. The human hair is approximately 1200 times thicker than an asbestos fiber and symptoms from asbestosis generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years.

As a homeowner you should know that generally asbestos does not become a problem until the surface is damaged and the fibers are released. If you are having renovation work done on an older home you should first call in a professionally licensed asbestos inspector like AC&E to determine if there is possible asbestos containing material in the area you want to renovate. The fact is most contractors are not licensed asbestos inspectors and you may leave yourself and your family open to serious health dangers. The contractor may create an asbestos hazard where none existed in the past.

AC&E Home Inspection Corp. also accomplishes asbestos demolition certifications if major demolition work is being accomplished.