As of 2011, Florida was home to 8,989,580 housing units. Many of these houses, apartments and condos were constructed in or before the 1980s, when asbestos use was prevalent in building materials.
More than 3,000 construction products from this time period used the fibers as a key ingredient. Insulation, pipes, paint, shingles and tiles are among the products that were most frequently manufactured with asbestos.
With so many older homes in Florida’s historic cities (i.e. St. Augustine or Panama City), renovations are common, and the risk for asbestos exposure during construction is significant.
Health Risks of Inhaling Asbestos
Safely contained within the home, these asbestos-containing materials pose no health threats, but renovating or demolishing these buildings can release asbestos into the air.
When these fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become trapped in the body. Over time, internal damage can occur. Scarring and inhalation can accumulate over decades, often leading to the development of serious illnesses.
Mesothelioma and lung cancer are the two cancers most frequently caused by asbestos exposure. Inhaling asbestos during a home renovation project can also cause benign illnesses such as asbestosis, lung fibrosis or pleural plaques.
To prevent asbestos inhalation during the renovation of an old building, homeowners can take a number of steps:
If the home was built before the 1980s, assume that some of the construction materials contain asbestos. Call anasbestos abatement company to inspect the property for friable asbestos and take samples for laboratory testing BEFORE beginning renovations.
If asbestos is found, hire a licensed company to remove or encapsulate the fibers. It is typically a good idea to hire a different company than the company that performed your asbestos sampling.
Although homeowners are allowed to perform their own abatement, they typically lack the training to do so safely. If you choose to complete your own pre-construction abatement, be sure to obtain the necessary permits and adhere to all of the rules laid out by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Work with your contractors to develop an asbestos management plan before they begin any physical work on your property.
If you have renovated many Florida properties for a living without following these precautions, you may now face an elevated risk of developing asbestos-related diseases in the future. Be sure to mention the incident to your health care provider so that appropriate medical action can be taken if you begin to exhibit the symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses.
Author bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.