Healthy Indoors Magazine

HI Feb 2019

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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46 | February 2019 10 Ways to Keep Safe from Asbestos By Linda Reinstein, President/CEO, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. W hile many people believe as- bestos is as archaic as rotary phones, the truth is the threat from this toxic substance is ev- erywhere. The scientific commu- nity agrees that there is no safe level of use or exposure to as- bestos. Yet shockingly, unlike 60 other countries around the world, U.S. laws do not restrict asbestos imports and allow almost all uses of the deadly substance. In the past century, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allowed more than 31 million tons of as- bestos to be used in construction trades, automotive, and shipbuilding industries. While there are certainly numerous toxic asbestos-con- taining products on the market, the most common place to find this deadly substance is in our homes, schools, and office buildings. Knowing where to look and how to safely remove asbestos is the responsibility of every home and building owner and professional. Most commonly, asbestos can be found in: • Vinyl flooring • Duct wrapping on heating and air conditioning systems • Insulation on hot water pipes and boilers, especially in homes built from 1920 to 1972 • Some roofing, shingles, and siding • Ceiling and wall insulation in some homes built or re- modeled between 1945 and 1978 • Sheetrock taping compounds and some ceiling mate- rials • Asbestos that has been sprayed on ceilings often has a spongy, "cottage cheese" appearance with irregular soft surfaces. While a certified asbestos consultant can be hired to determine whether or not asbestos is present and to give advice about how to take care of it safely, it is important that every homeowner and building manager understand the basic risks of asbestos and how to handle it. As our build- ings age and asbestos-containing materials deteriorate, the risk of exposure multiplies. To keep everyone safe, we rec- ommend following these 10 best practices: Don'ts 1. Don't dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. 2. Don't saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos- containing materials. 3. Don't use abrasive pads or brushes on power strip- pers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on flooring that may contain asbestos. 4. Don't sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, in- stall new floor covering over it, if possible. 5. Don't track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional. Do 1. Leave undamaged asbestos-containing materials alone. 2. Keep activities to a minimum in any areas with damaged material that may contain asbestos, and limit children's access to any materials that may contain asbestos. 3. Take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos- containing material.

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