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What risks are associated with asbestos?

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QuestionSo, what are the risks associated with asbestos?

AnswerIntact and undisturbed, asbestos containing materials (ACMs), such as popcorn ceilings, don't pose a health risk. Asbestos becomes a problem when the material containing asbestos is damaged, disturbed, or deteriorated and the asbestos fibers become airborne

Unlike most minerals which turn into dust particles when crushed, asbestos breaks up into fine fibers too small to be seen by the naked eye. An average human hair is approximately 1,200 times thicker than an asbestos fiber, so it takes an extremely powerful microscope to see the fibers.

Asbestos fibers are commonly mixed with other materials which bind them together so they can be used in many different building products. When these fine light fibers are released from an ACM, they remain in the air for hours.

Serious health problems can result from exposure to asbestos fibers, depending on the length of exposure.

Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can impair normal lung functions and increase the risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining), or asbestosis. Symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Studies show that the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke, and individuals who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for long periods of time, e.g., exposure in factories and shipyards.

If you are considering a home improvement project and asbestos is—or may be—a factor, e.g., removing a popcorn ceiling, I encourage you to read all the Q&As here carefully, check out all the links to read what others have to offer, and consult your local/regional/state air quality authorities about the applicable regulations before you begin the project.

Asbestos abatement has stringent requirements. When you finish your research, you may decide to turn it over to the pros, something I heartily recommend.

I've been in the construction field for over 25 years and wish I'd known then what I know now about asbestos. I would not have tackled a lot of projects because of the asbestos content of certain building products.

To get the whole picture, I recommend that you purchase my informative article, Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings, which describes how to determine if asbestos is present and the steps a professional takes to decide if removal is the correct course of action. Purchase this article to learn about asbestos in popcorn ceiling and how to patch them!These same steps apply to homeowners facing the same decisions.

Included are links to government and state agencies where you can get more information on the subject, locate state-certified professional asbestos contractors for removal, and find other documents that address removing the asbestos yourself.

As an added bonus, Patching a Popcorn Ceiling has been added to Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings to help those who need to make repairs to their ceilings. The process is about the same whether the ceiling contains asbestos or not; however, for your own peace of mind, you still need to determine if your ceiling contains asbestos, and the article describes procedures to follow to safely take a sample for testing.

Click to Purchase Don't forget—before starting this project get your informative 10-page PDF article titled Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings and Patching a Popcorn Ceiling. To order your downloadable .pdf printable copy, click here or click the purchase button to the left!

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Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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