Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral originally mined for its heat-resistant properties. After years of using asbestos commercially and industrially, a connection between asbestos and cancer was proven. Today, finding out asbestos is in your home is a worrisome time for you and your loved ones. Leaving you with questions of what asbestos is, where it could be, and how you can remove it. With certain stipulations, your homeowner’s insurance may be able to help.
Where is Asbestos in My Home?
If you live in a home built before the 1980s, there is a good chance parts of your home may include asbestos. Asbestos is most dangerous when disturbed. ‘Friable’ asbestos is when the mineral is powdery, crumbled, or broken down in any way making it airborne.
Popcorn ceilings are a type of spray-on textured paint that can contain up to 10% asbestos contamination. These ceilings can easily crumble into a friable state and once these fibers are released into the air can be inhaled. Before its use was banned, asbestos paint, drywall, and insulation were very common, making DIY home improvements dangerous. Generally, you can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos by looking at it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a professional to check for asbestos before doing any home renovations.
Places in your home likely to contain asbestos are:
- Air duct coverings
- Automobile clutches and brakes
- Door gaskets
- Exterior window panels
- Floor and walls around wood-burning stoves
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material
- Oil, coal furnaces, and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Textured paint and patching compounds on walls
- Vinyl floor tiles, vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives
- Water tanks
Is Asbestos and its Removal Dangerous?
Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma (asbestos cancer.) Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that is caused by inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers. It develops in the lining of organs like the lungs, stomach, heart, and even testicles. Asbestos exposure can also put you and your family at risk of other health issues. Cancers of the lungs, colon, throat, ovarian, and stomach have all been linked to asbestos.
If you discover your home does contain asbestos, removing it yourself is not recommended. Any amount of exposure to asbestos can cause serious health issues. You’ll want to hire a licensed specialist trained in asbestos abatement.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Asbestos Removal?
Most homeowner’s policies will have a pollution exclusion. This means that mitigating (or removing) a pollutant, like asbestos, is not covered. However, there is one exception. If a covered peril reveals or disturbs the existing asbestos, homeowners can cover the asbestos removal costs. So, if your homeowner’s insurance policy covers natural disasters and a tornado damages your home exposing the existing asbestos, they should cover it. State insurance laws can vary and so can your insurance policy. It’s recommended to speak with your insurance agent to be sure of all your homewoners’ coverages.