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Asbestos Inspection Center

  • Q: What is asbestos?

    A: Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used regularly in building products to make them stronger and heat-resistant. Since the late 1970's, asbestos use has declined in the U.S. due to potential health risks.

  • Q: Is asbestos dangerous?

    A: Asbestos has been linked to several serious health issues, including lung cancer, cancer of the chest and abdominal cavity, and irreversible lung scaring. These illnesses often take 20 to 30 years to develop and are most often seen in people who have worked in manufacturing, mining and other occupations where high concentrations of asbestos are present.

    It's important to know that asbestos particles must become airborne and inhaled into the lungs to pose significant health risk. So, asbestos products that remain intact are generally considered safe. But, damaged, cracked, or crumbling asbestos should be assessed by an asbestos inspector.

  • Q: Where is asbestos found?

    A: Your home may contain asbestos if it was built before 1978. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these asbestos-containing products are the most common:

    • Cement siding, shingles, and roofing
    • Millboard, cement sheet, and other furnace and wood burning stove insulation
    • Vinyl floor tiles and sheeting
    • Floor tile adhesive
    • Acoustic materials on walls and ceilings (e.g., popcorn ceilings)
    • Textured paint and patching compound (banned in 1977)
    • Insulation (houses built between 1930 - 1950)
    • Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts
  • Q: Where can I call for general advice about asbestos?

    A: If you have a question about asbestos in a specific product, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-CPSC. Asbestos also occurs naturally in the environment in ultramafic or serpentine rock. The California EPA Air Resources Board cautions that driveways surfaced with either of these rocks may pose a health hazard.

    Construction in areas containing ultramafic rock deposits may also create a health risk if the rocks are crushed, cracked, or disturbed during construction.

  • Q: What do I do if I have asbestos?

    A: Don't panic. Remember, as long as these products are in good condition and not disturbed in any way, they don't pose a significant health risk. In fact, removing undamaged asbestos products poses a greater risk than leaving them undisturbed.

    If you have damaged asbestos products in your home, like crumbling popcorn ceilings or cracked cement siding, it's best to call in a professional contractor to assist you.

    It's also a good idea to have your home inspected for asbestos if you plan to remodel or change your home in any way. If asbestos exists in an area that will be remodeled, you'll need to hire a professional to seal it off or remove it.

  • Q: Can I remove asbestos myself?

    A: It's best to leave asbestos removal to the professionals, even if the area containing asbestos is small. Trained contractors have special procedures and equipment to keep you and your family safe from the health risks of airborne asbestos particles.

  • Q: How do I find a professional asbestos service?

    A: Many states certify contractors in asbestos removal. Contact the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Toxic Substances Control Act Hotline at 202-554-1404 to find out about your state's certification process.

    Also, read the EPA's article on Asbestos in Your Home for more information on hiring a contractor and safe asbestos removal procedures for contractors.

  • Q: How much does asbestos abatement cost?

    A: Undamaged asbestos products can sometimes be sealed to ensure that asbestos particles do not become airborne. And, sometimes damaged asbestos products can be covered. For example, old vinyl flooring can be covered by new flooring. In other cases, asbestos-containing products may need to be removed altogether. Each of these options has its own costs. Removal is usually the most costly.

  • Q: Who pays for the asbestos inspection cost?

    A: It is more common for the seller to have the inspection done prior to sale.