Naturally, we’re all spending our time indoors these days, because, well, it’s freaking cold outside.
That makes this the perfect time of year to get the air in your home tested, just to make sure you don’t have anything like (oh, I don’t know) microscopic ASBESTOS particles floating around in the air you and your family are breathing lots of right now.
Simple things – things you might not think could cause that big a problem – can actually lead to creating some bad-news air in your place:
- Your brother-in-law talks you into letting him remodel your basement. He demolishes the walls and creates so much drywall dust that it looks like Buffy has been down there slaying a nest of vampires with her handy wooden stake
- You decide to use your woodburning stove or fireplace to create a little festive holiday warmth and cheer. But one of your sister’s mischievous little toddlers figures out how to close the damper while everyone else is in the other room watching football, and she also throws in a few plastic toys while she’s at it, causing an icky smoke that you can still smell months later
- It got really cold, then warm, and your pipes burst in the basement. The flood’s been cleaned up, but all the pipe insulation and floor tiles that were affected have since dried out and are now crumbled and dusty, and wheezing that dust into your air a little every day
- Your favorite aunt (well, formerly favorite) comes over to cook you a holiday feast, and she not only burns up the turkey, she lights the pan and part of the wall in your kitchen on fire. The fire was put out months ago, but you can still smell that smoke
- At the white elephant company holiday party, you end up taking home a surprise “gift” which turns out to be a party favor known as “Can O’ Asbestos Powder,” and when you open it, SURPRISE, it gets all over the living room
- Your teenage daughter inadvertently spills several containers of her talc and powdered makeup all over the guest bathroom, and the cloud of dust from that lingers in the air for about a week.
Yes, with the exception of Number 5 on that list, you might not have any idea that these simple events could cause microscopic asbestos particles to have been released in some quantity into the air you’re breathing.
You might even think asbestos is illegal, so why worry about it? But while it was completely illegal for a brief period several years ago, it’s perfectly legal to import asbestos-laden products into the U.S., and tons of the stuff arrive here every year.
Many of the building materials used to construct your home are likely to contain asbestos, including wall boards, floor tiles, and pipe insulation.
Those toys the kid burned up? You don’t know where those came from, do you? For all you know, they contained asbestos.
And your daughter’s makeup and talcum powder almost certainly contain some level of asbestos contamination.
Asbestos isn’t harmful as long as it’s kept in its solid, manufactured state. But once it’s “disturbed,” or included in some kind of powder or dust, asbestos breaks into microscopic shards that you can’t see, smell, or feel. But breathe in enough of those shards over time, and you could have a big problem.
By “big problem,” I mean “mesothelioma,” which is an incurable and fatal form of lung cancer.
If there’s any doubt, get your air tested by a professional. We can recommend a good one (we don’t do the testing ourselves, since that would be a conflict of interest). Since you’re spending all your time indoors these days, wouldn’t it be nice to know there’s nothing sneakily deadly hanging around in the air you’re breathing in there?