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Asbestos: What YOU Need to Know

What exactly is asbestos? Asbestos is a soft, grey material that does not burn. It was used as a building material in houses built before the year 1981, as well as some houses built after that time. It is generally contained in materials like older insulation, popcorn ceilings, wall texturing compounds, vinyl tiles and heating duct wrap. Asbestos can cause serious health problems for people when its dust is inhaled; asbestos becomes hazardous when it is airborne.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home, samples of potential asbestos-containing fibers should be sent into a testing site. The National Institute of Standards and Technology maintains a list of labs certified to do asbestos testing.

According to OSHA regulations, if you become aware of the presence of asbestos in your property, you are obligated to inform tenants and independent workers hired to maintain your home. If you work with a property management company, you are also obligated to inform that company.  

If the asbestos in your property is undisturbed, you are still requited to inform all previously listed parties, and are responsible for monitoring the asbestos over time. You are not required by law to remove undisturbed asbestos. Is crucial to inform tenants and workers of its presence and to advise them not to disturb the asbestos. This disturbance could even include making small holes while hanging pictures on walls. Tenants should be advised to avoid doing home repair on their own in undisturbed, asbestos-containing areas. When possible, asbestos should not be disturbed.

When asbestos removal becomes necessary, seek an expert’s advice on ways to remedy the problem. Hire a trained asbestos-removal specialist, and make sure debris is legally disposed of in a hazardous waste disposal site. Most importantly, if asbestos is discovered in a property you own, act quickly! You are responsible for the information you possess and the safety of others.