Asbestos in Homes | Who Can Safely Test & Remove It?

Other common ways for asbestos products to be disturbed include:

  • A fire or natural disaster
  • Flooding or water damage
  • Maintenance projects

Asbestos exposure can occur anywhere in the house.

Common places where asbestos is found in homes include:

  • Attics
  • Basements
  • Ceilings
  • Crawl spaces
  • Floors
  • Roofs
  • Walls

Asbestos in Attics

Attic insulation is a common location for asbestos in houses. Vermiculite attic insulation is a specific and notorious type of insulation that may contain asbestos. Vermiculite insulation looks like small pebbles on the floor of the attic. Vermiculite attic insulation, such as Zonolite insulation, has well-documented ties to asbestos contamination.

The EPA suggests up to 70% of the vermiculite sold in the United States between 1919 and 1990 came from Libby, Montana. Much of it may have been contaminated with asbestos.

If a home has vermiculite insulation, homeowners should be careful not to disturb it. They should call an asbestos abatement professional to handle asbestos testing and removal. Because so much of the vermiculite came from Libby, homeowners should assume any vermiculite insulation contains asbestos.

Asbestos in Walls of Homes

Homes built before the 1980s may have wallboards and textures that contain asbestos. Wallboards go by many different names, like drywall, gypsum board or sheetrock. During the manufacturing process, asbestos was mixed with other materials and sandwiched between two sheets of paper. Asbestos in walls can be disturbed when drilling through them or if the outer paper is damaged.

Asbestos cement sheets were also sometimes used for interior walls. On the outside of older homes, these sheets were used for roofing and siding. Over time, these materials can start wearing out, exposing residents to asbestos.

If a homeowner wants to remodel or needs to do maintenance, they should take precautions before starting on any work in homes built before the 1980s. A licensed asbestos abatement company should first perform a professional asbestos home test.

Asbestos in Popcorn Ceilings and Vinyl Tiles

Popcorn ceilings and vinyl tile floors were popular starting in the 1940s. Both, however, may have asbestos in them.

Builders liked popcorn ceilings because they could hide imperfections and provided acoustical insulation. These types of ceilings could have 1% – 10% asbestos content. As they age and break down, pieces can flake off and become airborne.

Vinyl tiles provide an easy-to-maintain floor option. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. During the manufacturing process, the vinyl may have been fused with asbestos. The adhesive used to glue the tile down may also have asbestos. If homeowners renovate or repair flooring themselves, they face exposure risks.

An asbestos abatement professional will be able to test for asbestos and safely remove contaminated materials.

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