As an Atlanta contractor, you’re no stranger to the threat of asbestos, and you’re probably well aware of the risks. From the health and safety danger it poses to your crew, to the possibility of lawsuits and liability for improper handling, it’s clear that asbestos abatement needs to be left to the experts. However, it’s not always clear when asbestos is present.
If you’re remodeling or renovating a historic building, you need to know how to spot asbestos. Keep reading to learn the warning signs of asbestos, or give us a call today at 678-807-7900 to get a free estimate on our asbestos abatement and removal services.
Historic and Hazardous: The Hidden Environmental Dangers in Old Homes
Homes built from the 1920s to 1990 are often insulated with vermiculite insulation which contains asbestos. According to the EPA, over 70 percent of all vermiculite insulation sold in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990 was sourced from the same asbestos-contaminated mine in Libby, Montana. Due to the extremely high risk of contamination, any vermiculite insulation should be approached as if it contains asbestos.
Homeowners can’t get rid of their popcorn ceilings quickly enough. After all, nothing screams, “This space hasn’t been updated since 1970!” quite like that bumpy texture. However, any renovation involving popcorn ceiling removal must be approached with caution. Popcorn ceilings installed prior to 1977 often contain asbestos fibers that can be extremely harmful if inhaled. The ceiling scraping process dislodges those fibers, which is why proper training and equipment is so important.
Fireplaces or Wood Stoves
We know now that asbestos is a serious carcinogen, but before that discovery, it was widely used in construction materials because of its natural fire-retardant properties. For that reason, it’s often lurking in the materials used around fireplaces and wood stoves.
Because of its natural durability, strength, and fire-retardant properties, asbestos was commonly used in roofing materials before the early 1980’s. These asbestos-containing materials aren’t limited to asphalt shingles, but may also include asphalt roofing felt, cement roofing shingles, roof underlayment, sealant, and flashing.
Stucco and Siding
Any exterior renovations of homes built prior to the 1980s are also at risk for asbestos exposure. Asbestos-laced cement was widely used in stucco and siding for its fire-retardant and strengthening benefits.
Asbestos is also found in floor tiles and tile adhesives, especially if the floor was installed between 1920 and 1960. However, even up until 1980, these materials were still being installed in homes. If you can see a layer of black adhesive where the tiles are broken or torn, it likely contains asbestos. If the tiles themselves look discolored or oily, they’re also likely to be contaminated.
Heating and cooling ducts are another, often-overlooked area that may pose an asbestos risk. Disturbing an HVAC system during renovation can expose contractors to insulation, cement, and tape containing asbestos.
Of course, asbestos isn’t the only hazard of historic home remodeling. Paint, window sealants, and other pre-1990s building materials may contain another dangerous contaminant—lead. If you’re a contractor looking for environmental hazard abatement in Atlanta, we’re here to help. Contact us online to get the conversation started. We’ll be glad to assist you with any of your environmental cleaning needs on your next Atlanta renovation project.