The Real Story of Asbestos

How Did We Find Out About Asbestos

How long have we known it’s dangerous to health?

This short video provides the answers.

Why Are Popcorn Ceilings So Terrible

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Popcorn Ceilings May Contain Asbestos

Many older houses have what are known as popcorn ceilings. If you are thinking of buying one of these older houses, then find out about these types of spray on ceiling covers before making an offer, so you know whether you are willing to live with it or able to afford the cost of removing it.

What Is A Popcorn Ceiling

A popcorn ceiling is the name given to ceilings that have been treated with a spray-on textured paint. They are also known as acoustic ceilings, because they have sound-proofing qualities. Many people do not like them, firstly because they are old fashioned and not what they consider to be in tune with modern decor and secondly because they may contain asbestos.

Does It Contain Asbestos?

Volunteers Exposed To Asbestos Dust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This case dates back to the year 2009 in Michigan, USA when a group of volunteers and untrained employees were tasked by Detroit International Bridge Co, with cleaning up an old building at Michigan Central Station. The company was subsequently fined by the OSHA for exposing these people to asbestos dust and other toxic materials.

Damages Award £250,000 for Secondary Exposure To Asbestos

The family of a woman who died of mesothelioma has been awarded over $320,000 compensation against the firm who employed her husband in their boiler making factory.

She was exposed to the dust on her husband’s overalls when she shook them out prior to washing  them every evening. This is termed secondary exposure and this case is the first in Scotland, UK to have been awarded such damages. The firm was called Babcock & Wilcox, now Babcock International. You can read the full story here. There is another article about fines for contravening asbestos regulations here.

So Useful So Dangerous

Asbestos is an extremely useful material, unfortunately, it is also extremely dangerous. As a non flammable insulator, it was used in fire curtains, home insulation, as ironing stands, for automobile brakes, in ceiling decoration, house sidings and so many more places. It was also used in cigarette filters! Both government and private industry promoted the use of asbestos, even though they may already have known at the time that it was dangerous and caused cancer. Below is one of the promotional films made many years ago before the dangers of asbestos were publicly known.

Sources Of Asbestos in Homes

Where To Find Asbestos In The Home

It’s often surprising just where exactly asbestos can be found in older homes and what needs to be done to ensure a safe asbestos clean up. The best route is to bring in the experts. Qualified asbestos removal firms will have trained staff, who will know where exactly to look for possible uses, such as sidings, floor tiles,  asbestos duct or ductwork insulation and boiler areas for instance. They will also be trained to use the correct methods, such as taping off areas with asbestos danger tape, using asbestos cleaning cloths and disposal bags or they may possibly recommend asbestos encapsulation methods for areas where the material does not need removal and is not friable but where work is needed to ensure any asbestos cannot be accidentally released.

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK has produced an image that shows some (not all) of the possible places to find asbestos in the home. The numbering guide can be found on their page. The picture is linked to the page it comes from.

www.asbestosremovalz.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an old film available that shows many of the areas where asbestos can be found in an older house. Warning: the video is actually called “how to  safely remove asbestos” but what it really does is show you where asbestos is located. If you are interested in watching to see how many ways asbestos was used in older houses, then check out the asbestos documentary below.

 

This page contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

Home Decor And Maintenance

If you own a home for any length of time, you will probably plan to improve some aspect of it at some point, even if it’s just painting a door or a wall. And home improvement can also be a great hobby: it can build useful skills and give you a great sense of satisfaction. Of course, it can also improve the function and look of your home, provided it is done correctly!

Planning

Planning ahead is vital if you don’t want to waste money and time. Check out home decor and DIY magazines and books for ideas and inspiration. Give yourself some time to learn, rather than just jumping into action straight away. Take some design elements from pictures you see, and use other people’s ideas to help spark your creativity. You might even want to create a vision board or journal to keep ideas to think about.

It’s also important to remember that every piece of real estate is subject to building codes; without proper research, the requirements imposed by local codes and zoning regulations can present a nasty surprise to those who intend to do home maintenance or to make major improvements to their home, including removing walls, extending the building or converting a roof space or garage. You could find that your expensive work is not approved and have to spend money returning your house to the way it was!

When thinking about making a major renovation to your home, check the kind of return that you could hope to get from your investment, as some updates can be a bit of an overkill depending on the neighborhood you live in, especially if you might be thinking about selling your home within a couple of years of doing this renovation. If you do too much, you might not get your money back on the improvements you made. Also think about how any changes might affect your home’s resale value. For example, you might think about converting your garage into a living room to meet your immediate needs, but this might affect your chance of selling or the price you might get at a later date. Even if you don’t plan on selling immediately, circumstances can change, and you may have to spend additional money getting your home back to the way it was.

Getting The Work Done

If you have the time and the skills, you may plan to do all the work yourself, but if you need to bring someone in, don’t ever hire an unlicensed contractor. General contractors as well as sub contractors are required to have certification in most states. This does not guarantee competence, but it is legally required. If contractors are not adequately licensed and insured, you don’t want to hire them. Always insist on references before hiring a contractor to work on your home improvement project. Hiring a competent and experienced professional is worth the money to give you peace of mind that the job is done right the first time.

Tools And Materials

It is important to use the highest quality supplies and tools when doing a home improvement project. You may spend more initially, but you’ll save money down the road. Better quality products survive wear and tear and last longer. Tools can be expensive and you don’t want to have to replace them regularly.

Get The Basics Checked

Before you start remodeling or redecorating a room, bring in a professional for an electrical checkup. This is a legal requirement in some places. You also need to check the plumbing, to be sure that it is in good working condition. It’s no fun having to tear out a new floor or rip into a new wall, to make a repair that should have been done before doing the work.

Asbestos

If your house is an older one, you will need to check for asbestos before starting in to major work. For instance, if you have older floor tiles or a popcorn ceiling, it will need to be tested to see if it contains asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring but harmful substance that requires extra care when it is removed and disposed of, but it is generally only harmful if disturbed. If you do find asbestos, you will need to hire a special crew, who are trained and licensed to remove it.

What does the siding on your home look like? Do you have an asbestos siding? If so, again, if you plan on removing it, whether to replace it with more modern siding or because it is in poor condition, you will need to hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor. The same goes for asbestos roof tiles or slates. If your roof is damaged and needs repaired, and the slates or tiles on it are asbestos, any damaged ones that need removed must be dealt with by a licensed contractor and disposed of properly.

Asbestos Tiles

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous, mineral material which is extremely hazardous when the fibers become airborne and are inhaled, because these fibers adhere to the lining of the lungs, and can cause cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers are very fine and the most dangerous ones are the ones you cannot see with the naked eye, because they can penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs.

Asbestos Tiles

You may think you are safe from these substances in your own home but at one time it was quite popular to choose asbestos tiles as a form of flooring. Asbestos has good insulating and fire resisting properties and to this day you can actually find old asbestos floor tiles which have been hidden under carpeting for instance. While they remain undisturbed and in good condition, they are safe and it is legal for them to remain there but the problem comes when you want to remodel your home or lay down a fresh floor or the tiles are no longer in good condition.

If you are in an older house then it is a legal requirement that you need to consider whether your floor tiles contain asbestos before you start to remove them or replace them or do work that could cause asbestos fibers to be released into the air. If you suspect that your floor tiles contain asbestos, you will need to call in a trained and registered contractor who is legally able to remove and safely dispose of the asbestos material.

If you suspect that your floor tiles contain asbestos, then it is also possible that other areas of your house contain asbestos too.
You can find it in fuse boxes; it would be behind the actual fuse. Textiles and composites made of asbestos were also around at the same time as asbestos tiles were. It could also be found in old heat resistant gloves and fire blankets. Bath panels, window sills, toilet seats and cisterns may also contain asbestos composites. Asbestos paper was actually used inside metal cladding and for lining under tiles.

What do These Look Like?

These materials which contain asbestos are not really that distinctive from what is used nowadays, this includes asbestos tiles. It is recommended that you look for a trade name, if that cannot be found then inquire with the previous homeowners as to how long they have had certain thing or how long ago certain materials were installed in the home. If you do find a trade name, you can easily look it up online and receive further information on it.

How Dangerous is it To Work With These Materials?

Working with any kind of material that contains any type of asbestos is very dangerous. That being said, there are tasks with certain materials that can be carried out by workers who are non-licensed yet appropriately trained.

Normally, work on certain material is not necessarily notifiable; the exception would be if the materials are not in good condition. Another exception would be if the work will most likely cause significant deterioration and breakup of the material, notification in this case would be required.

DIY Remodel

Susan Cailliau, own photograph of own construction with own Bayko bricks, taken 2011-06-28 This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BaykoModelHouse.jpeg Picture modified by adding text.

There are a lot of things you could do yourself in this world whether it be a big house remodel or something else but part of getting it right first time is planning ahead to make sure you know what you want and that it can be done, whether by you alone, or with help.

Research

Many people have probably already done something along the lines of what you plan to do. Look for their pictures, reports and plans of what they did and see if you can get some ideas that will fit with what you want to do. They will also have listed all the problems they met and solved along the way. learn from their mistakes. If you are not sure exactly what you want to do, create a vision board, with pictures of different options and think about what would work for you and what you can afford.

The do-it-yourself books that you can find out there may help you create a plan that works for you, whatever job you want to do. You can also find tutorials on the internet that help and videos to show you exactly how to carry out a particular job or use a particular tool. Don’t just go with the first book or tutorial or video offered, however. Before you trust a book or anything that you find online, you should look for different reviews on the resources you need. For instance, if you find a book about home improvements you may want to look it up on a website to see if you can find out if there are any reviews written about it. You don’t want to use a book that tells you how to do something completely wrong.

Tools

When you’re trying to do something yourself you need to have the right tools on hand. If you have tools already, then that is a good thing but you may need to get more specialized ones if the job calls for it. Make sure that you have the ability to order something on short notice or to get something at the store if you have to. If you are going to be shopping for tools make sure that you find the ones that are the highest in quality and won’t break down on you after a few uses and be sure that you can use them safely, with proper safety equipment if necessary.

Materials

Not only do you need the right tools when you are doing a job, you need the right materials for the job. If you are doing flooring, for instance, then you want to make sure you get the right tiles or the right wood. There are a lot of different types of materials for different types of jobs. You can generally find the highest quality options if you search for them and if you don’t necessarily go with the lowest priced options. Sometimes people think that by going with cheap options they are saving money, but these can tend to break down faster and cost you more in the long run because you have to keep replacing them.

Plan

Make sure that you plan everything you are going to do on paper before you start. You want to know when you are going to be able to begin and how long it will take for each step roughly. That way, you can make plans for your home to not be usable in certain aspects. You don’t want to, for instance, start working on the bathroom but not have a way to know when you can use it again.

DIY Remodeling

DIY projects can be fun and very productive and will give you a great sense of satisfaction if done the right way. They also have the potential for great danger, and overrunning on costs. It’s just a matter of getting together the right plan, the right materials and figuring out how to do the task the proper way. Don’t skimp on anything and you should end up with a good outcome.

Home Remodeling

Home remodeling is something that needs to be done every so often if you plan to live in a house for a long time or if you move into an old house. Bathrooms and kitchens don’t last forever and changes in family size may mean you have to make changes to your home to match your family’s needs. This is a task that has to be thought about and done properly or else it could turn out wrong. It is also important, if your home is an older one, that you consider whether there may be any asbestos present and if so, that you take the correct steps to minimize risk to the occupants and anyone else.

Plan

You may know the saying, “to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail” and nowhere is this more true than in home remodeling. You need to know how to plan properly, whether you are going to do the work yourself or bring someone in to do some or all of it. If you do not plan, then you may end up with a project on your hands that you cannot finish. It can cost a lot more money if you make a mistake to fix that mistake by hiring someone than if you were to just have someone work on this that was an expert in the first place. Think about what you are going to do to get to the end result that you are looking for, and make sure you write down every step that you need to take before you take it.

Hiring

Make sure that if you do hire someone, that they have three years experience or more if possible. You do not want to just hire someone random that does general contracting and just got started in the field. You need to make sure that you do some research on everyone that you are going to hire to see if they have done past work that people were happy with. You can generally find out more about a contractor or a company if you look their name up online and try to find reviews about them. Sometimes a friend will have used someone they were happy with but make sure that it was for the same kind of work.

Contract

Whether you use a legal contract or not, when you agree work with someone for a price, you are setting up a contract with them, so you need to put together something that makes sense to both of you and that is enforceable. You do not want to go into this without a contract because then if they don’t do the work properly you have no legal recourse. You are going to want to make note of the dates when the work will be done, and when it should start. You also need to make sure you make note of everything that you are going to have done. Otherwise, you may as well hire an attorney right now because something could go wrong if there isn’t anything in writing and you wouldn’t have any recourse. Any contractor worth having is going to provide you with a quote or estimate, with details of all the work to be done that has been agreed between you. There may also be unexpected work that cannot be quoted for before the job starts (maybe somethiing hidden) but make sure that a limit is put on any extra that can be charged, to avoid nasty surprises when the final bill arrives.

Store Your Valuables

Make sure that when someone is remodeling your home, that you put away your valuables. You do not want your house to be set up the way it is right now if you want someone to come in and help you remodel. For instance, a vase that is very expensive and sitting on a table around the work site could get knocked off the table and broken. You are better off putting everything in a room and locking it up if possible so that you don’t have to worry about it going missing or other problems with it.

Get The Tools

If you are going to do the remodeling yourself, you will need the correct tools and protective equipment, whether that is breathing masks, gloves, hard helmets or eye protection. You may be able to hire the tools you need and if so, the supplier should be able to advise you on safety and protective equipment.

Can You Do It?

Home remodeling is something that you have to take seriously. There are a lot of factors at play here and you need to make sure that you get help if you’re not comfortable with dealing with all of this alone. Anyone can remodel a home whether they have to hire someone or do it themselves and sometimes, the planning is almost the best part, except for actually moving into your remodeled home.