Because asbestos has useful insulating and fire-retardant properties, many industries through the years have included it in their products – and the homebuilding industry is no exception. In fact, asbestos was commonly used in many homebuilding products throughout the 1900s.
While asbestos usage declined greatly in the 1980s, it was not completely banned. Thus, the older a house, the more likely that it contains asbestos. Moreover, we now know that asbestos, when the fibers are inhaled, can cause horrible health consequences, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Thus, many who own homes, or who are interested in purchasing a home, want to determine whether asbestos is present.
In this blog, we’ll discuss some important considerations if you plan on checking for asbestos when buying a house, including how to set up an asbestos home inspection.
Examples of Asbestos in the Home
The following are a few examples of parts of the home that may contain asbestos:
- Floor tiles
- Insulation around pipes
This is only a partial listing. Moreover, some compounds and types of cement contained asbestos and could be used almost anywhere in the house.
How Do I Know if My Home Contains Asbestos?
Asbestos cannot be observed with the naked eye – microscopic examination is necessary. Therefore, laboratory analysis is generally required. This is why many people perform asbestos home inspections.
Samples taken from the home can be provided to laboratories that use Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality provides a list of analytical laboratories located in Oregon and elsewhere.
While some homeowners collect these samples for testing themselves, we recommend hiring certified trained professionals to perform your asbestos home inspection.
If My Home Contains Asbestos, Does It Have to Be Removed?
Asbestos can be classified as friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos can be easily crumbled or crushed, which can create dangerous airborne asbestos fibers. It is the exposure to these fibers that is dangerous. Non-friable asbestos, on the other hand, is normally joined together in a way that it can be safely maintained without the fibers becoming airborne. It is imperative to bear in mind that non-friable asbestos can become friable if it is disturbed or maintained improperly.
In some instances, asbestos can be encapsulated, thereby protecting those in the home from the potential release of any fibers. However, some would argue that removal is the only remedy providing certainty and complete peace of mind.
Can Asbestos Affect the Sale of a Home?
Like most states, Oregon requires sellers of homes to make a wide variety of disclosures to potential buyers, including environmental problems. Oregon Revised Statutes Section 105.464 provides the statutory form containing the required disclosures.
Checking for Asbestos When Buying a House
In addition to the state’s disclosure requirements, it’s common practice for a potential purchaser to hire a home inspector to inspect and evaluate the home before making an offer, or making any offer conditional on the results of the home inspection. If a home inspector discovers asbestos, the parties can negotiate on whether or not the seller must remediate.
Oregon has an asbestos training program for contractors and maintains a list of licensed asbestos abatement contractors. If your home needs asbestos remediation, we recommend that you carefully vet any potential contractor to ensure that he or she is a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Nothing is more important than taking every available precaution to protect your health and the health of your family.
Call Us with Questions
Exposure to asbestos can cause grave health consequences, and protecting one’s home environment is essential. Moreover, we have seen many cases of illness arising from asbestos exposure at work. In many of these circumstances, employers have not adequately protected their employees. Sometimes, others, such as the manufacturer of a dangerous product, have acted wrongfully. Our experienced asbestos lawyers strongly believe that such wrongdoers should be held accountable under the law.
If you have questions about mesothelioma, asbestos, or any other topic, please call us with your questions.