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Asbestos Exposure from Renovating Old Buildings

In the past century, asbestos exposure often occurred at the workplace, specifically while “mining and milling raw material” and while manufacturing certain products, such as household appliances.1

Today, people are exposed to asbestos while repairing, remodeling, removing, or maintaining asbestos-containing products installed years ago.1 Most of the time, this asbestos exposure occurs while remodeling or repairing older houses and buildings constructed before 1980.

Moreover, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry are exposed to asbestos on the job, especially if their job involves repairing an older building.1 For example, in January of 2018, a Seattle hotel was “cited for multiple egregious safety and health violations” after knowingly exposing its untrained works to asbestos during renovation.2

Asbestos exposure should be taken seriously because it is well known that, if inhaled or swallowed, asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, “ a cancer that starts in cells in the linings of certain parts of the body, especially in the linings of the chest or abdomen.”3 However, it can take mesothelioma 20 to 50 years to develop after the first instance of asbestos exposure.4

Here are three safety tips to help you remodel a building with asbestos-containing materials:

1. Know About Common Asbestos-Containing Building Materials

Before you start renovating or repairing an older building, it is important you know about several asbestos-containing materials used in construction before 1980. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the following materials may contain asbestos:

  • Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts insulated with asbestos blanket or paper tape6
  • Resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber)6
  • Backing on vinyl sheet flooring6
  • Adhesive used for installing floor tile6
  • Cement sheet, millboard, and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood-burning stoves6
  • Door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves6
  • Soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings6
  • Patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings6
  • Textured paints6
  • Asbestos cement roofing, shingles, and siding6

2. Avoid Disturbing All Asbestos-Contaminated Areas

While remodeling or repairing an older building, it’s very important to avoid disturbing any areas you suspect are contaminated with asbestos. This includes avoiding any of the following actions:

  • Disturbing, damaging, and/or removing asbestos-contaminated materials5
  • Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming debris that may contain asbestos5
  • Sawing, sanding, scraping, or drilling holes in asbestos-containing material5
  • Using abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring5
  • Sanding or trying to level asbestos flooring or its backing5
  • Tracking material that could contain asbestos through the house5

3. Hire an Accredited Asbestos Professional for Repair or Removal

If any asbestos-containing materials in your building have been disturbed, the EPA advises that you hire an accredited asbestos professional to help you with this problem. There are two types of asbestos professionals:

  • Asbestos inspectors. They can “inspect a home or building, assess conditions, take samples of suspected materials for testing, and advise about what corrections are needed.”5
  • Asbestos contractors. These professionals can “repair or remove asbestos material.”5

Diagnosed with Mesothelioma? We’re Here to Help

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be an overwhelming experience, but our experienced attorneys at Shannon Law Group, P.C., are here to help you shoulder the burden. We not only guarantee the best settlement or verdict for your injury but also a promise to make your life as smooth as possible. Please fill out our online contact form. Call us at (312) 578-9501 or toll-free at (886) 881-9980, too. A free, no-obligation consultation is available as well.






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