Many homeowners throughout the United States worry about asbestos, and for good reason. Asbestos has been linked to numerous health concerns in humans who spend time near it over time. Most of the general population understands that being around asbestos is undesirable, but some people wonder if it is essential to remove asbestos from their homes entirely. A common question we encounter among HVAC owners is: must I abate asbestos if I discover it on the ducts in my HVAC system?
Public facilities are required by law to remove asbestos, and employers may run the risk of being sued if they allow asbestos to exist in their workplaces. However, individual homeowners may not be legally required to abate asbestos on their property. Still, the question of whether you must abate asbestos or not may not be the essential one to ask. Instead, try asking yourself this: why wouldn’t you abate asbestos if you find it in your home? While reduction may not be required by law of every single person who discovers asbestos in their home, it is almost always something you should do if you find yourself living in a house with asbestos present. The following paragraphs will tell you why abatement is vital, what symptoms may be caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, and how to deal with asbestos if you do find it in the ductwork.
Why You Should Always Abate Asbestos if You Find it in Your House
It is true that asbestos may not harm you if you never come into contact with it in your home. However, it is also true that if you find asbestos in your home, it is probably because you came into contact with it. If the place you discovered asbestos on the ducts is relatively accessible, you should seriously consider abating it. Removing the asbestos will guarantee that no one else in your home can encounter it and be affected.
Of course, asbestos does not usually cause harmful effects in humans immediately. It is only after spending considerable time near asbestos and breathing in its fibers that one begins to suffer from health problems. However, the longer you put off asbestos removal, the more time you may allow for yourself and your family to be exposed. It is recommended that you contact your HVAC service company as soon as you notice asbestos on the ductwork and discuss how best to decrease it with them.
Health Risks of Asbestos
Asbestos was used in the construction of many homes throughout the middle decades of the 20th century, primarily because it was a cost-effective form of insulation that also proved to be highly fire-retardant. However, asbestos also has the potential to release tiny fibers when it is disturbed, which can be breathed in by humans and lodge inside their lungs without their knowledge. Over time, these fibers can collect in large amounts and cause severe health problems. The US Department of Health and Human Services has classified asbestos as a carcinogenic substance—which means that it has been found to cause cancer in humans. In addition to several forms of cancer, asbestos exposure can also cause asbestosis, which can cause respiratory upset and permanent damage to the lungs. Because it takes years for these complications to develop, the effects of asbestos were not widely known until it was already used in the construction of numerous homes.
How to Deal with Asbestos on AC Ducts
If you have recently had an HVAC installed by a licensed professional, there should be almost no risk of asbestos on its ducts. However, if you have purchased an older home with existing HVAC infrastructure that dates back over a decade or two, it is worth investigating the ducts for asbestos and calling your service technician if you find any. You and your technician will be able to discuss your next moves. There are two ways to abate asbestos: repairing it or removing it entirely.
Repairing asbestos is either done by sealing it together so that its fibers will not be released into the air of your home, or covering it up so that the fibers will be contained within an area where they will pose no danger to humans. Removing asbestos is a more costly procedure, but one that will take the asbestos out of your property altogether. Critically, neither process should be undertaken by anyone but a licensed professional. Licensed professionals will know how to safely deal with the asbestos and dispose of it in an environmentally responsible way if you elect to have it removed from your home.
Abate Asbestos and Earn Peace of Mind
You deserve to live in a home that is not at risk from asbestos. Remember the dangers it can cause and always abate asbestos if you notice it on your HVAC ducts, or anywhere else in your house.