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Home Renovations Increase Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Many Utah homeowners dealt with broken pipes and flooded basements this winter and those built before 1980 were likely constructed with materials that contain asbestos. I was in the house of Lisa Jacobson Ward, a Logan, Utah resident who had flood damage throughout her basement this winter due to a burst pipe.

“So the water came out of that wall…”

After all the water was pumped out of the basement, and the first layer of flooring was removed, construction workers noticed the underlying linoleum floor looked old enough to possibly contain asbestos. A sample of the floor was sent to a lab and tested positive. Certified asbestos abatement professionals were called to safely remove the floor.

“No you could not come into the room and they were very professional. They have a whole system of blocking air flow and putting up plastic. And it still concerned me, I wondered how do we know it’s all out? I know if it’s not disturbed it doesn’t supposedly doesn’t do anything, but it’s still weird to have a known carcinogen in your house.”

Many residents may not realize how many household materials could contain asbestos especially in homes built before 1980. When the flame retardant properties of asbestos were discovered in the 1880s it was added to almost all house and car construction materials.

“It was considered a miracle. You hear about big-cities that historically struggled with fire, then all of a 

sudden there is this miracle chemical that you could put in oven mitts or curtains that would make them fire-retardant.  With pipes and dry-wall when that dust is released into the air that’s when it’s dangerous” said Emily Walsh from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Mesothelioma, a cancer often found in the lungs, has been correlated to exposure of asbestos. Unfortunately the symptoms of mesothelioma take decades to appear and the symptoms are similar to other diseases which often causes misdiagnosis. If you suspect you or anyone in your home has been exposed speak to your doctor about getting tested for the presence of asbestos and visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliancewebsite for more information.