Remodeling your home is an exciting process, but when it comes to any major project, it’s a good idea to take precautions to ensure that the process is safe for both your home and your family. Whether you’re hiring professional contractors or planning a DIY project, it’s important to make sure your home is free of potential hazards.
Most people have heard of asbestos and know that it can be harmful to humans with long-term exposure. But what exactly is asbestos, and how can you make sure it won’t impact your remodel?
Keep reading to learn more about asbestos and the benefits of testing before you renovate.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. While there are many asbestiform minerals, six types are currently regulated in the United States: chrysotile (the most common type found in the US), amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite, all of which are known for their heat-resistant properties.
Throughout the mid-20th century, asbestos was commonly used in the construction of a wide variety of building materials such as ceilings, drywall, siding, and floor tiles, due to its affordability, tensile strength, sound insulation, and resistance to chemicals and heat. However, asbestos has been found to be hazardous to human health.
When disrupted, microscopic asbestos fibers can be released into the air, leaving those exposed at risk of breathing them in. Since the 1970s, the U.S. government has implemented a number of asbestos regulations to limit its use. However, homes built before the 1980s are very likely to still contain asbestos.
Despite the risks associated with the material, it has not been banned outright and is still used in the construction of certain building materials, including vinyl flooring and cement products, among others. It’s also sometimes still imported from other countries with more limited regulations.
Despite the risks associated with asbestos exposure, with proper testing and removal when necessary, you can protect the health of you and your family. Here are 4 reasons to get an asbestos test before you start a home remodel.
1. Avoiding Health Hazards
Most people are aware that asbestos is harmful to human health. But what are the actual health hazards associated with it? Long-term exposure has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Because of the impact of asbestos on the lungs in particular, vulnerable populations and those with existing lung-related conditions are at a greater risk for harm.
People exposed to asbestos for an extended period of time may experience short-term symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Rapid weight loss
- Throat and chest pain
Because asbestos fibers are released when disrupted or damaged, the risks associated with the material significantly increase during demolition. That’s why getting an asbestos test before you begin a remodel is highly recommended, especially if you live in an older home.
2. Preventing Damage Later On
Asbestos fibers can become airborne. Once the area has been disrupted during a demolition, these toxic materials can travel through the air to other areas of the home. Not only does this increase the risk of negative health outcomes, but it also makes the removal process much more difficult later on.
That’s why testing your home – particularly the areas you plan to renovate – before you begin your project can save you money, time, and stress in the long run.
3. Improving Air Quality
Good air quality is essential to maintaining your quality of life. Unfortunately, many people overlook air quality in their own homes. Breathing in clean, fresh air helps us stay comfortable and active, while poor air quality can have a serious impact on our general well-being, ability to focus, and long-term health.
Asbestos is recognized as an air pollutant by the EPA. Testing for asbestos and removing or encapsulating harmful fibers will significantly increase overall air quality, ensuring that the air in your home is breathable and safe for everyone, including residents, guests, and contractors.
4. Maintaining Peace of Mind
Major renovations can be as stressful as they are exciting, and having to also worry about potential exposure to environmental hazards can make the process even more difficult. Even if you live in a newer home, testing for asbestos before a demolition project will help you feel safe and secure.
Getting a test from an accredited lab is the best way to ensure peace of mind so that you can move forward without worry.
Additionally, Oregon law requires that asbestos testing be completed prior to demolition projects for homes built before January 1st, 2004. While there are certain exceptions to these regulations, getting an asbestos test can also help you feel certain that you’ve followed the necessary steps.
Many home renovation companies won’t step foot in your home before an asbestos analysis is complete. Some contractors will even do the inspection themselves or arrange the inspection on your behalf. But even if you’re planning to DIY your renovation, there are testing requirements for materials that commonly contain asbestos such as: roofing, flooring, and drywall.
These items must be tested for asbestos prior to being disposed of at a landfill or otherwise. The last thing you want to do is get to the end of your project and get turned away at the dump or when trying to rent a dumpster because your debris may contain hazardous material.
What to Do If You Think You Need An Asbestos Test
If you think your home may contain asbestos, the next step is to contact an accredited lab for a survey. At JSE Labs, you can collect your own sample and drop it off at our location or mail it to us for accurate, fast results.
We also offer in-person inspections, so you can have one of our AHERA inspectors visit your home to conduct a full site survey in order to identify any asbestos in your home.
What is the Asbestos Testing Process Like?
JSE Labs is accredited for (NVLAP Lab Code: 200872-0) and strictly adheres to the EPA 600-R-93-116 method, for bulk asbestos fiber analysis. Once we receive your sample, our highly trained team will conduct a thorough inspection of the material to identify the presence of asbestos.
If identified, our analysts will quantify the asbestos present in the material using visual area estimation (VAE).
Prepare For Your Home Remodel With an Asbestos Survey From JSE Labs
Are you planning a home remodel? Do you suspect your home might contain asbestos? JSE Labs is dedicated to providing reliable and accurate laboratory testing to all of our clients.
We are NVLAP accredited (Lab Code: 200872-0) for bulk asbestos analysis and maintain several formal licenses, certifications, and accreditations regarding the testing of asbestos, lead, and mold for both residential and commercial properties.
Are you ready to get started on your renovation project? Contact us to get started on your asbestos, lead, or mold testing today!
Jennifer is the Laboratory Manager of JSE Labs, and holds a BS in Environmental Studies & Science from Portland State University. She is an avid learner and enjoys exploring new topics related to natural processes and the environment. She has experience analyzing hazardous materials, including asbestos and lead, and is committed to promoting safe and sustainable practices in the workplace and beyond. When not in the laboratory, Jennifer can be found exploring the Pacific Northwest with her Catahoula Leopard Dog, Oliver, or volunteering locally.