Nobody likes to think they live atop a veritable minefield, however, many American homes harbor potentially toxic accumulations of asbestos and mold. If you plan to put your house on the market, you may have to address its hidden dangers.

Residential Mold 

Mold is a fungus that comes in many different colors, shapes, and sizes. It often seems innocuous: a small or slowly growing patch of colored fuzz, hidden beneath the kitchen sink or behind basement pipes. However, mold can be found in almost any dark, damp place, including: 

  • Attics 
  • Basements 
  • Showers 
  • Heating and cooling appliances and their surroundings 
  • Kitchen and bathroom sinks 
  • Showers and toilets 

The Potential Dangers of Residential Mold 

Although most forms of mold are not necessarily hazardous, any concentration of these water-loving fungi could cause serious problems, both for people and for homes. Mold can: 

  • Emit tiny spores which irritate the respiratory system
  • Rapidly spread throughout rooms 
  • Gradually destroy wooden fixtures, fabric, and cellulose-based materials
  • Compromise a home’s structural integrity 

Some dangerous types of mold can produce mycotoxins, which can induce serious – even life-threatening – physiological and neurological reactions, including seizures, chronic fatigue, and recurring respiratory problems. 

Checking Your Home for Mold 

If you are planning to sell your home, or are looking to purchase a new one, you could check for obvious signs of mold by: 

  • Looking for and investigating any standing water in basements or bathrooms
  • Inspecting water marks on walls, ceilings, or floors
  • Trying to sniff out any “must”-like smells

If you have hired a home inspector, ask them if they have seen any signs of mold.  

Asbestos In Homes and Construction

Background on Residential Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that comes in six different forms.  

While we know today that asbestos is incredibly dangerous, it was once renowned for its strength, resilience, and heat-resistant properties. People have sought to harness asbestos for thousands of years. In modern times, asbestos has been used to reinforce and fortify everything from automotive parts to wall paint and vinyl floor tiles.  

Many homes built between the 1920s and 1970s have “asbestos containing materials,” or “asbestos contaminated materials,” including but not limited to: 

  • Cement pipes 
  • Carpet underlay
  • Asphalt roof shingles 
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Heating and electrical ducts 
  • Pipe insulation 
  • Adhesives

Asbestos and Human Health 

Scientists believe there is no safe level of asbestos exposure

When people inhale asbestos, tiny microscopic fibers—most smaller than the width of a single human hair—can enter the respiratory system. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and embed themselves inside the lungs. 

Some asbestos-related conditions are not harmful. Pleural plaques, for instance, are almost always caused by asbestos exposure. However, pleural plaques—a thickening of the tissue surrounding the lungs and lining the chest—usually do not adversely impact health. 

But pleural plaques can be a risk factor for other asbestos-related conditions, including: 

  • Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that can affect the lungs and other parts of the body. Most mesothelioma cases can be traced back to asbestos exposure. 
  • Different forms of cancer, including lung cancer. While asbestos exposure rarely causes lung cancer by itself, people with histories of both tobacco use and asbestos exposure have a high risk of developing lung cancer

Asbestos in Modern Homes 

Asbestos is undoubtedly dangerous. Unfortunately, many homes still contain asbestos in different places. 

However, finding asbestos materials in your home should not be a cause for immediate concern. By and large, asbestos is not dangerous when it is left undisturbed, sealed behind walls or trapped underneath vinyl flooring. 

Asbestos Can Break Down Into Tiny Hazardous Fibers and Be Inhaled or Swallowed

But asbestos can prove problematic—and highly hazardous—if it is fragile or friable

In other words, if asbestos breaks down into powder or dust, it may become airborne. And when asbestos is in the air, it could be inhaled. 

Since asbestos fibers cannot be detected by the human eye, nor can they be smelled, you should contact a trained asbestos testing service if you suspect your home might be contaminated by asbestos materials. Many states, counties, and cities maintain registries of licensed asbestos testing and removal services. 

Homeowners’ Responsibilities for Mold and Asbestos Removal 

Every state has its own rules for real estate disclosures. 

However, many states will require homeowners and landlords to inform prospective buyers and tenants of known asbestos and mold problems. 

Asbestos Exposure In Your Home Or Building Could Open You To Legal Liability

If you have asbestos or mold in your home, your health—and your wealth–might be in danger. If you do not take any steps to ensure that the asbestos or mold is either removed or safely contained, you expose yourself to liability

Any future visitor, home-owner, or tenant could file a lawsuit if they develop health concerns related to asbestos or mold exposure. You could be held responsible for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other legal damages. 

Since asbestos and mold related diseases can be chronic and even life-threatening, the costs of treatment can be immense, often totaling in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

The Bottom Line on Asbestos and Mold 

If you find asbestos or mold inside your house, you do not need to panic. However, you should consult a trained professional to test the suspected mold or asbestos materials to determine whether their concentrations could pose a threat to your health and that of any potential buyers or tenants. 

While paying for an asbestos removal service or mold clean-up can be modestly expensive, it will likely cost less than an angry occupant’s claim for damages. 

AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you.

If you believe that your home was contaminated with asbestos, you could be entitled to significant compensation—money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being.

In addition to legal claims,veterans disability, social security and employment protection like workers compensation, FELA and The Jones Act for maritime workers, there are asbestos trusts that have been set up to compensate those harmed by asbestos without having to file a lawsuit.

If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, including testing for exposure or how to file a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (206) 455-9190.