Asbestos has been used in industry and manufacturing for more than a century. Easily attainable and inexpensive to produce, the so-called “miracle mineral” is composed of strong, densely packed fibers. Since these fibers can help trap heat, builders used special loose fill asbestos to insulate many homes constructed between the 1930s and late 1960s and 1970s.
While the asbestos industry spent millions of dollars to mislead the public into believing its products were safe, we know today that this mineral is anything but a miracle: asbestos exposure has been tied to many different health disorders and diseases, including mesothelioma and several types of cancer.
If your home was built before 1977, you may have been exposed to asbestos fibers in loose fill asbestos-based insulation.
Home Insulation and Loose Fill Asbestos
Loose fill asbestos was used in many different building materials to insulate homes, offices, and other structural spaces. It could be found:
- In or between wall cavities;
- In, on, or underneath floorboards; and
- In home attics, roofs, and lofts.
Although loose fill asbestos is among the mineral’s most dangerous forms, it is also very easy to identify.
Identifying Loose Fill Asbestos
Loose fill asbestos has a distinctive appearance:
- Loose fill asbestos is solid but may seem “fluffy”
- Particles are usually grey or white but can have a grayish tinge
- The insulation may be scattered like a dirt spread
If you have never seen or worked with loose fill asbestos, it may look like lumps of clay or piles of gray-white dust.
The Dangers of Loose Fill Asbestos
Experts like the National Cancer Institute have stated that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.1
While loose fill asbestos is not dangerous when it is packed behind walls and underneath sealed roofs, any recent construction work or home renovation could dislodge asbestos particles.
When these asbestos particles are displaced, they can spread throughout a home. In some instances, they could enter a home heating or air conditioning system. Loose fill asbestos fibers are particularly dangerous, because they are friable. This means that there is no way to prevent asbestos mineral fibres from being released into the air.
Once the asbestos fibers have been released, they can easily circulate to different rooms, putting entire families at risk.
People who live in asbestos-infested homes could develop conditions including but not limited to:
- Pleural Plaques, the thickening of tissue around the lungs. While this condition is not life-threatening, it can accelerate or prompt more serious respiratory diseases and problems.
- Asbestosis, a chronic lung condition caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. It is characterized by symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and weight loss. Asbestosis gets worse over time and cannot be cured.
- Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer that causes severe respiratory problems.
Once asbestos is inhaled, it may never leave the body. However, asbestos-related health concerns can take decades to develop. People who are diagnosed with conditions like asbestosis and mesothelioma often do not realize they have a problem until they suddenly begin experiencing symptoms.
Staying Safe from Loose Fill Asbestos
If you believe your home was constructed with loose fill asbestos, you should never try to test it by yourself. Since asbestos fibers can stick to almost any surface, you could inadvertently spread asbestos particles inside your house even if you wear a face mask and other protective clothing.
Some state health departments maintain lists of licensed asbestos detection services and removal companies. The Australian government’s Asbestos Response Taskforce and its regional offices, including that of the ACT government, promote loose fill asbestos insulation eradication schemes, which help families ensure their homes are safe from contamination.
However, you may have to take additional steps to safeguard your home, health, and family. Even if a licensed asbestos removal contractor can eradicate any remaining loose fill asbestos fibers, you, and your loved ones, may have already been exposed.
These first four tests are basically red flags. If you see a red flag, a laboratory test is the only way to find out if the floor tiles have asbestos. A number of test centers are probably near you. These centers provide instructions about how to safely extract a sample and test it. If the floor contains asbestos, professional removal is usually the next step.
If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.
Compensation for asbestos-related injuries without a lawsuit
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.
AsbestosClaims.Law and Asbestos Trust Compensation
AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you. 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 (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (206) 455-9190.
1 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.