The Risk of Asbestos Cancer Exposure in Homes
The risk of asbestos cancer exposure in homes across the United States is very real and is of great concern to public health officials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described the risk of asbestos exposure in homes, including asbestos in products such as:
- Attic insulation
- Wall insulation
- Plumbing/pipe insulation
- Asbestos in cement, bricks, and stucco
- Boilers and furnaces with asbestos components
- Flooring that contains asbestos
- Ceiling tiles
- Household products and appliances
Years of Asbestos Cancer Exposure
Asbestos in homes that has not been disturbed is not thought to be actively dangerous. The danger is when the asbestos is moved or when it deteriorates — these circumstances may cause the release of asbestos fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled by people and pets living in a house. Years (even decades) spent living with asbestos exposure in one's home can result in serious and even life-threatening diseases caused by the asbestos. It's imperative that homeowners and renters understand the risks they face from asbestos in the home environment.
Millions of homes were built in the U.S. in the decades when asbestos was thought to be a "miracle material," known for its fire- and heat-resistant properties. Asbestos is extremely durable and very versatile: it can be formed into sheets, used as an ingredient with other materials, woven into textiles, and even sprayed onto surfaces. It wasn't until the late 1970s that homebuilders started to cut back on the use of asbestos materials.
Asbestos Vermiculite Attic Insulation
A particularly bad example of the risk of asbestos cancer in homes is vermiculite, a mineral that can be contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite was provided as a loose filling material, and it was easy to pour into the spaces between the floor joists of an attic. It was often left exposed.
Nearly all of the vermiculite used this way was obtained from a mine in Libby, Montana that was heavily contaminated with asbestos. The Libby mine workers' rates of lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer from asbestos are far higher than the national averages.
The EPA strongly recommends that you not disturb any vermiculite in your home. They also note that vermiculite in the attic can sift through ceiling cracks and around ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Learn More About the Risk of Asbestos Cancer Exposure in Your Home
If you are concerned about the very real risk of asbestos in homes, contact mesothelioma treatment centers to find out more. There are many things you can do, and a few things that you shouldn't do.