The dangerous effects of asbestos have become common knowledge in recent years. Being a fibrous material, the greatest risk associated with asbestos is breathing in the tiny fibers it is composed of. These tiny fibers can become lodged in the lungs and cause serious health reactions.
Due to the heat and fire resistant qualities of asbestos it was used in many products. Some of the most common include clutches in vehicles, components of transmissions, paints and coatings which are heat resistant, materials for roofing, tiles, insulation paper, cement products, pipe insulation, door gaskets for appliances, and fireproofing products.
The dangers imposed by the existence of asbestos depend on the likelihood that it will become airborne. Asbestos that is fully contained such as in tiles or cement products pose no health risk without and until the asbestos is disturbed by the cracking or chipping of the item. Once asbestos has found its way into the lungs it can lead to several serious illnesses. Prolonged exposure increases the changes of adverse health effects. The most common diseases linked to asbestos are:
• Asbestosis – scarring of the lung tissue which cause difficulty breathing
Mesothelioma – a cancer affecting the mucus membranes in the lungs, heart, chest and abdominal lining
Lung Cancer – a cancer than causes persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pains and anemia
Lung cancer is the most common ailment attributed to asbestos exposure and mesothelioma is almost always caused by direct contact with asbestos over an extended period of time.
There are some more hazardous applications of asbestos than others. A home inspector may discover asbestos in a house that you are considering purchasing. What is most important is to find out if and what the placing risks of such a discovery are. Pipe insulation containing asbestos should be replaced because the asbestos can be easily released into the air. Things like floor tiles and siding which are made from asbestos poses less than a direct threat because it is contained and has little risk of being released into the air. The exception to these rules is when pipe insulation is encapsulated and when tiles or siding show visible signs of deterioration such as cracks and chips.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask that asbestos containing materials be removed before agreeing to purchase a home as it can be quite expensive. You would not want to disregard the discovery only to later be charged thousands of dollars to dispose of it.
To make the decision whether to pursue asbestos removals or not you need to do a little investigating for yourself. Ask the home inspector to show you the asbestos containing material so that you can rate the condition. Based on your assessments your real estate agent can work with the seller to hopefully come to an agreement that works for everyone. In order to be though you should have an assessment and a removal estimate done from two separate firms whenever asbestos is found. This can be presented to the seller or used for your own personal reference.