Beware of Asbestos Hazards When Conducting Energy Efficiency Renovations

by heather

This article is a guest post from James O’Shea, who represents the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center. If you’d like more information on older products that contain asbestos (like crock pots, hair dryers, and popcorn poppers), click here for a comprehensive list.

It seems today that efficiency is the rule of thumb in home remodeling. Not only is it saving homeowners money but it’s also good for the health of our planet. However, there are certain hazards one must consider when conducting these renovations.

Asbestos, in particular, was extremely common in fixtures related to heat or insulation and homeowners need to be extremely careful about engaging with potentially hazardous asbestos-containing material, many of which still exist in older fixtures today. Asbestos was found to be a good insulator and was thus used in any number of fixtures that required this quality. Below is an explanation of some common insulation products which could potentially contain asbestos.

Insulation

Home insulation of nearly any kind installed prior to 1980 likely contained asbestos fiber. Asbestos was durable and could be included in nearly any variety including not only the common “pink” insulation, but also in “popcorn” or spray foam insulation. Those insulation materials with loose fibers such as the popcorn variety are extremely hazardous and should only be handled or removed by professionals.

Ductwork/Pipe Covering
In order to insulate pipes to retain heat or prevent freezing, asbestos was used in pipe covering compounds and around ductwork. Asbestos could be used in nearly any fixture of this nature including pipe coverings, bonding agents, adhesives, ductwork tapes, and other types of insulation sleeves.

Hot Water Tank Fixtures

A more efficient hot water tank can save homeowners money, but be aware of asbestos when removing the old one. Asbestos was used in the insulating sleeves of these tanks as well as the surrounding fixtures to retain heat.

Homeowners need to be aware of asbestos because exposure to the naturally occurring mineral has been decisively linked to the development of the rare asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. However, diseases like mesothelioma and other respiratory conditions can all be avoided if simple precautions are taken when conducting renovations of this nature.

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