With current state and federal environmental regulations, the likelihood that a prospective homebuyer may purchase a home that has asbestos is small. That chance is even smaller when purchasing a new home, as new construction rarely ever contains asbestos. There still remains a number of old homes, however, especially in West Virginia, that may have asbestos siding, insulation, dry or sheet wall, or other products that have never been replaced.
The risks of asbestos exposure is well known. Asbestos is understood as a “a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers [and] because these fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used widely in the construction, automotive, and other industries. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibers are released into the air [and] when they are breathed in, they can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years.”
The health effects of asbestos exposure are similarly documented. Over time, the inhalation of such fibers can accumulate and lead to serious health problems including, “asbestosis, an inflammatory condition of lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe[,] mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen[, and] lung cancer and lung problems, including pleural plaque thickening of the membranes that surround the lungs, and pleural effusions abnormal collections of fluid between the lungs and the inside wall of the chest.”
Where should a prospective homebuyer look to in terms of asbestos within the home? The United States Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) has advised homebuyers that asbestos still remains commonly found in older homes in the following materials:
- Roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement
- Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation
- Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints
- Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos
- Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds
- Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
- Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
- Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
- Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation
Potential home buyers should proceed with caution when purchasing any home where there may be a risk of asbestos present and should consult a home inspector experienced in determining whether asbestos is present in a home.
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If you or someone you know has suffered personal harm or medical issues as a result of asbestos exposure, you need attorneys with experience in such personal injury matters. Colombo Law is highly experienced in such matters and can evaluate your potential legal claims on your behalf.