Some Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about Asbestos from the EPA Site
The information below has been sourced and quoted on June 10, 2022 from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website:
How do I know if I have asbestos in my home (in floor tile, ceiling tile, shingles, siding, etc.)?
The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. EPA only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector).
What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my home, building, apartment, or school?
Asbestos that is in good condition and left undisturbed is unlikely to present a health risk. The risks from asbestos occur when it is damaged or disturbed where asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled. Managing asbestos in place and maintaining it in good repair is often the best approach.
Where can I find someone to remove the asbestos in my home?
You can perform an internet search for “asbestos contractor” and the location of your home. Contact your state to determine what state training and accreditation requirements may exist for both the contractor and their workers. EPA recommends that you use an asbestos contractor that is properly trained to handle asbestos.
My attic has vermiculite insulation in it. Am I at risk? Should I take it out?
If you have vermiculite insulation in your home, you should assume this material may be contaminated with asbestos and be aware of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from exposure to asbestos. The EPA recommends that vermiculite insulation be left undisturbed. Airborne asbestos fibers present a health risk through inhalation, so the first step is to not disturb the material, which could release fibers into the air. If you disturb the insulation, you may inhale some asbestos fibers. The degree of health risk depends on how much and how often this occurred. If you choose to remove the vermiculite insulation, this work should be done by a trained and accredited asbestos abatement contractor that is separate and independent from the company that performed the assessment of the vermiculite insulation to avoid any conflict of interest.
I am thinking about buying a house but it has vermiculite attic insulation in it. Should I have it removed before or after I buy the house?
Removal of the vermiculite insulation may not be necessary if it is confined in a manner where it will be left undisturbed. If you choose to have the vermiculite insulation removed, the EPA recommends that you use a trained and accredited asbestos contractor that is separate and independent from the company that performed the assessment of the vermiculite insulation to avoid any conflict of interest
I’m remodeling my home. Do I need to be concerned about asbestos in the building materials?
It’s not possible for you to tell whether a material in your home contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If you suspect a material within your home might contain asbestos (for example floor tile, ceiling tile or old pipe wrap) and the material is damaged (fraying or falling apart) or if you are planning on performing a renovation that would disturb the material, the EPA recommends that you have it sampled by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector). The professional then should use a qualified laboratory to perform the asbestos analysis. Also, you may 3 learn more about whether the replacement materials you intend to install might possibly contain asbestos by reading the product labels, calling the manufacturer, or by asking if your retailer can provide you with the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product(s) in question.
ASBESTOS IN THE HOME
Does a home seller have to disclose to a potential buyer that a home contains asbestos? What about vermiculite?
Federal law does not require the seller to disclose to a buyer that their home contains asbestos or vermiculite. State or local requirements may require disclosure. Contact your state about such requirements.
Does the EPA have money available for homeowners to pay for asbestos testing or asbestos removal?
The EPA does not have funding available to homeowners for asbestos testing or removal.
My neighbor is re-siding and re-roofing his house and there is material all over the ground. Do I need to be worried about asbestos exposure?
Not all house siding or roofing materials contain asbestos. If you are concerned the material might contain asbestos, you can ask your neighbor whether or not the material has been tested for asbestos. Federal regulations regarding renovations or demolitions of asbestos-containing materials do not apply to a homeowner’s renovation of their home. State or local regulations may be applicable if the siding or roofing materials do contain asbestos. Contact your state regulatory agency or local government building department about such requirements.
I found out the cement water pipes leading to my house (business) contain asbestos. What should I do?
If the pipes are damaged they should be properly repaired or replaced by your water utility. For more information on asbestos in drinking water visit: http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/asbestos.cfm
ASBESTOS IN VERMICULITE
Can I take vermiculite insulation out myself?
Federal asbestos regulations do not apply to work that you perform in your own home, but the EPA strongly recommends that you not attempt to remove vermiculite insulation yourself. Instead, the EPA strongly recommends that you hire a properly accredited asbestos contractor if you need to have vermiculite insulation removed from your home.
Does drywall or sheetrock contain asbestos?
There is no way to know whether these materials contain asbestos without having them tested. If you are concerned those materials in your home may contain asbestos and the materials are damaged (frayed, falling apart) or if you are performing a renovation that will disturb the material, consult with a state accredited asbestos assessment/inspection firm.