If you're living in a home with intact asbestos, it doesn't mean it's necessarily posing a health risk. Most people who suffer from asbestos-related health issues are exposed the the substance over long periods of time. When these materials in your home deteriorate over time, or become damaged or disturbed, asbestos fibers can be released in the air- which then poses the heath threats. Fibers that are released can stay around your house for years and be breathed into your lungs.
Over time, these fibers can build up in your lungs, causing lung cancer and mesothelioma -- a cancer of the lung and abdominal cavity lining. Asbestos is a dangerous enough health risk that it even has a medical condition named for it: Asbestosis, which is a permanent scarring of the lung tissue. These scars can prove deadly over time [source: EPA].
There's no need to panic when you hear the word "asbestos." Answer one question: Is the asbestos in materials that are deteriorating or likely to be disturbed, perhaps through future remodeling? If so, then you should probably have the asbestos removed. As mentioned before, any sort of disturbance, like sanding paint or sawing fiberboard that contains asbestos, will release the fibers into the air in your home.
You may be better off leaving the asbestos in place if, for example, the asbestos product is in insulation for heating, or plumbing pipes in your crawlspace or attic. These are places where the asbestos product is in good shape, or used in an out-of-the-way area.
Should you choose to keep the asbestos products in your home, you have a few options for dealing with the problem. The U.S. EPA suggests that if you opt not to have asbestos materials removed, you should seal or cover them. Sealing includes using specially created products that are designed to coat an asbestos product and bind the fibers together permanently. This way, even if the asbestos is disturbed, the fibers will not be released. Covering asbestos can include wrapping it or closing it off from a room.
Whatever method you choose, we always strongly recommended that you hire a certified professional contractor to carry out removal or sealing and covering processes. Just as taking samples of asbestos is dangerous, these other methods are even more so. If you are in need of asbestos testing or removal, give Southeast Environmental a call at (866) 939-4429.