One thing I didn't consider when buying my first house was the existence of asbestos in older homes. I was too concerned with dreaming of ways to make my new/old house more beautiful and functional for my family.
I want to warn others that asbestos was not just used in insulation, duct work, and popcorn ceiling as most people are widely aware. It was heavily used in vinyl tiles and vinyl sheet flooring. You can't cut or remove your old floor without testing it for asbestos. Disturbing will send asbestos fibers into the air.
A termite company I used prior to moving in cut through our floor to access the crawlspace and make a repair. They didn't inform us, but later said they suspected asbestos and used water while sawing. This is not enough of a safety measure, but far. They left the asbestos floor chipped and exposed, so we walked on it, moved furniture over it, etc. unknowingly. I started having tile contractors come in to bid on repairing the floor and covering it with tile. One of them mentioned the likelihood of asbestos, but I stupidly decided to take a pry bar and investigate the layers of floor myself before thinking that I should investigate how to deal with it properly. Luckily, I had sealed the door to the kitchen with plastic before attempting this because I was concerned about lead paint on the wall I was working on, so I pray that cut down on any additional exposure to my family. I was wearing a paper mask, but went about my business dealing with wallpaper glue in the same room for a few hours afterward. I decided to have the flooring to testing. It came back that one layer was 70% asbestos. One percent is considered dangerous.
I'm now terrified that I've inhaled it and will not be around for my kids or, even worse, that I've exposed them. Therefore, I am informing people in every way I can think of to not touch anything in your old house without having it tested. It isn't worth the money saving to DIY, if you end up making yourself or your family gravely ill.
There are state and federal laws regarding the handling of asbestos, so please research and make sure your contractor will follow all regulations before allowing them to work in your home as well.
Just my (possibly unpopular) opinion:
But many of us now in our late 50's, 60's, 70's grew up in "these older houses", with plenty of asbestos and nearly all oil base exterior paints had lead in them. I may be alone here, but I find many scare tactics are there to help promote regulations and added fees. Common sense and taking some obvious precautions of course, is just smart.
Totally understand health exposure issue if someone was working in a factory with asbestos production or auto brake pad manufacturing where constant exposure was an issue. But that is a whole other scenario.
Unless you sand or grind these tiles you have virtually nothing to worry about. Tiles are about the most stable form of asbestos you'll find in an older home.
I'm with Conrad. And to add to the industrial aspect given the age of the works I'd say almost all of them with asbestos related illness compounded the problem with smoking.
With respect to lead, with the exception of peeling lead paint "potato chips" the largest cause of high lead in the blood in the public was never paint. It was leaded gasoline that was outlawed in the 1970's in the USA.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sparky,
Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.
My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
I agree with Conrad and sparky. One of the biggest distributors of misleading scare tactics is the government web sites, IMHO. I do realize that in every circumstance there is a small portion of the population that will be damaged by the slightest exposure to just about everything but that does not excuse scaring the majority of the population for the benefit of a few.
We have been around asbestos, lead, mercury with no ill effects.
I am sure you will think we just a bunch of old fogeys who don't realize the dangers but we do. I am sorry that you are alarmed but hope you will investigate it further to check the facts.
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