Finding Asbestos in Your Home Is Normal — Here’s What to Do Next

What to do after you find asbestos infographic

Taking the proper actions after you discover asbestos will protect everyone who lives and works in the area.

If you encounter asbestos in a building you do not own, you should alert the owner as quickly as possible. Whether you are a renter or an employee, those who are responsible for the property need to know about the serious risk.

If you are the owner of a home or business, and have reason to believe that there is asbestos on the property, there are several steps you need to take to assess the situation.

Do Not Disturb Asbestos

Generally speaking, it’s not possible to tell if a material contains asbestos without testing it.

If you are unsure, treat it as if it contains asbestos — just to be on the safe side. The truth is that asbestos was used in thousands of different products before 1980. Until that time, the cancer risks of the toxic substance had been hidden from the public.

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Without touching it, inspect the potential asbestos and surrounding area for signs of wear, deterioration, and water damage.

If the potential asbestos shows no signs of damage, it’s probably safe to leave it in place, though it will need to be covered and/or sealed.

“Asbestos-containing materials that aren’t damaged or disturbed are not likely to pose a health risk,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos-containing material alone if it is in good condition.”

If the potential asbestos is damaged, or if it might be disturbed by upcoming repairs or renovation, then you need the help of an accredited asbestos professional.

How to Tell if Asbestos Is Damaged?

Err on the side of caution. If you are having trouble determining whether or not the potential asbestos-containing product should be repaired or removed, get in touch with a professional.

An asbestos abatement professional will be able to:

  • Accurately test materials
  • Safely remove and dispose of asbestos according to local regulations
  • Inspect the property after to make sure it is clean

They may tell you that the material is not asbestos. In that case, they can inspect the rest of your house or building to make sure that it is truly void of the toxic substance.

If you think you have encountered asbestos, use this guide based on information from the EPA to keep track of what you should and shouldn’t do:

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If You Need an Asbestos Professional

When you encounter asbestos that is damaged or cannot be left alone, you will want the help of experienced professionals to resolve the situation safely and lawfully. There are two types of accredited asbestos professionals:

  • Asbestos Inspectors are trained to assess conditions in a building, take and test sample materials for asbestos, advise on what corrective actions are needed, and conduct a followup inspection to make sure that the job has been done right.
  • Asbestos Contractors are trained and certified in the safe and lawful repair, removal, and disposal of asbestos.

If the asbestos can be safely left in place, inspectors will typically call for it to be sealed or enclosed, which prevents humans from being exposed to the toxic substance.

If the asbestos cannot stay in place, contractors must remove and dispose of the asbestos safely. This is a complex task and must be carried out in accordance with safety guidelines.

Asbestos laws vary from state to state, and certain municipalities have additional regulations to keep people safe. An asbestos inspector will help you make sure that any actions you take are in compliance with all relevant asbestos laws.

Why Asbestos Is Dangerous

As asbestos products and materials age, degrade, or if they are disturbed (as during construction or remodeling), they can release microscopic fibers into the air. This is extremely dangerous, as exposure to asbestos most often occurs via inhalation.

Once asbestos is inside the body, the fibers can get trapped in the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen, or testes, eventually developing into mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease.

It usually takes several decades after exposure before signs and symptoms of mesothelioma become apparent. People with mesothelioma are often completely unaware they were exposed until they are diagnosed with the incurable cancer.

There is no known “safe amount” of asbestos exposure, and the risk of developing mesothelioma is lifelong.

Asbestos Requires Responsibility

If you think that you have found asbestos, take appropriate steps to alert those affected and resolve the situation. It may involve the help of several asbestos professionals.

You can’t “sweep it under the rug,” because asbestos is far too deadly.

Asbestos manufacturers knew about the cancer risks of their products, but they hid the truth from workers, consumers, and public health officials. In the pursuit of profits, they continued to sicken people for generations. Around the world, millions of people have died as a result of those lies and coverups.

Each year, asbestos contamination in older buildings causes new exposures and ruins lives.

If you, or someone you know, has had their life turned upside down by an asbestos-related disease, compensation may be available. Contact us today for a free legal case review.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: September 10, 2020

View 3 Sources
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2020, April 7) Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) and Demolition. Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://www.epa.gov/large-scale-residential-demolition/asbestos-containing-materials-acm-and-demolition

  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2020, April 8) Asbestos Laws and Regulations. Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-laws-and-regulations

  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2020, January 2) Protect Your Family from Exposures to Asbestos. Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family-exposures-asbestos