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Asbestos 101: Is Removal the Best Option?

Although there might be a chance that asbestos may be present in many materials found in your home, it is actually not of concern so long as it is maintained in an undamaged state. Otherwise, it may trigger health issues.

If the asbestos-containing materials in your home are friable, you should conduct inspections regularly. Check for fallen or missing sections of insulation and any asbestos-containing materials. And if the material is found damaged, it is better to have it repaired than removed. Call a trained asbestos expert to make the repairs.

Similarly, prior to any demolition or renovation activities, it is best to hire a qualified asbestos inspector to examine your property. In cases such as these, asbestos removal may be necessary if the materials containing asbestos are in poor condition.

How to Remove Asbestos

If it is really necessary, asbestos removal should be done by a licensed contractor. Call your local public health department to find an asbestos removal company nearest your area. But, if you plan on conducting the asbestos removal yourself, there are several precautions and recommendations that you should follow.

* Quarantine the room from which the asbestos removal will be conducted. Any air heating systems should be shut off, as well.

* Be sure to wear a respirator that has cartridges to filter out the asbestos fibers.

* Do not break the asbestos as doing so will release more fibers into the air, increasing your risk for health problems.

* Keep the fibers intact by keeping the material wet during the entire asbestos removal process.

* Seal the asbestos-containing material in a leak-proof plastic bag and then place it in a cardboard box before disposal. It should be thrown at a permitted landfill.

* Using wet rags, mops and sponges, clean the contaminated area thoroughly.

How to Prevent the Release of Asbestos Fibers

Asbestos becomes a threat when it is disturbed. If you suspect that there is asbestos in your home, do not make physical contact with it. In most cases, the presence of asbestos is not a cause for alarm as long as its fibers are intact. If the asbestos-containing material does not show signs of wear and tear, they can most likely be left in place.

To prevent the release of airborne asbestos fibers, frequently inspect the materials for signs of damage or deterioration. Moreover, you can take your prevention up a notch with the following methods:

* Fix damaged asbestos-containing materials such as the insulation around tanks, ducts, boilers, or pipes with duct tape and other heavy tape, or by contacting a professional.

* Be on the lookout for water leaks and flooding as these can expose asbestos through damaged drywall, flooring and ceilings.

* Treat the material with a liquid compound known as encapsulant, which seals off asbestos fibers, preventing their release. Keep in mind, though, this only works in materials that are in good condition.

Remember, asbestos removal is not always the best option. If you find that the materials containing asbestos are in good condition, the safest things to do is to just leave them alone.

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