Asbestos Low Level Chronic Exposure In Home

Shikaka805September 20, 2011


I have lived in a home for about a year and a half and the air test results are positive for asbestos. The results are not insanely high for asbestos, but simply past the limit. ***The test numbers are below.

A professional asbestos remediation/cleaning company is coming in to clean up the place with special vacuums, negative air, wet wiping everything, etc.

I just want to know if I should be worried about my family, visiting friends/family, or myself getting any kind of related sicknesses. Again, I have lived here for about 1 and a half years with this low level exposure. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated to give me some peace of mind.

***I had the air quality tested for asbestos and it was a range of 0.019 fibers per cc and 0.035 fibers per cc. According to the government it is "ok" if the air quality is at or below .01 fibers per cc.

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Possibly the ceilings were asbestos laced acoustic, (popcorn) ceilings recently removed before your purchase. If not done properly during removal, fine particulates end up everywhere in the home. Maybe you can find out from the former owner.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 5:15PM
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I wouldnt worry about levels that low and your exposure was not a long term chronic exposure. Did you notice any effects since moving in, increased sinus infections, colds, allergies? If so that may clear up after they clean up.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 11:37AM
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When we remodeled our kitchen we were required to have the materials that would be disturbed tested prior to obtaining permits. The things tested were things like drywall, wall texture, flooring etc. Our test came back positive. We did not have air quality testing done before the remodel, however. Our levels were just over the limit of 1% in the drywall joint compound and ceiling texture. This finding was devastating to us as we had remodeled 3 bathrooms DIY and had removed drywall as well as removing wall paper. We had the kitchen drywall completely removed and mitigated by a professional company. They had to get permits from the county for this work.

This made me research the issue to see if we may have health problems. We have lived in this house for 16 years and we raised our teenagers in it. I am certainly no expert, but from what I read the safe exposure levels were extrapolated from high exposure level data. My dad told me that my neighbor when I was a kid died from asbestosis. From what my dad can remember, he worked for several years in his early 20s repairing industrial smokestacks which apparently are lined with nearly 100% asbestos. He was also a heavy smoker.

The other thing I think about is that there don't seem to be people getting lung diseases that are caused by asbestos now-a-days. If it was a problem in your or my home, wouldn't home contractors be having problems. I just can't imagine that we have been exposed to problem levels of asbestos.

I am sure that you are bummed out by this. Do you know what in your house might be the cause? What year was your house built? Asbestos was supposed to be phased out of building materials in the mid-to-late 70s, but the guy who did our testing said that they get positive samples even in newer homes (all houses getting remodeling permits have to tested in my county, regardless of age). He thinks products from China are the problem, but I don't know if he really knows that or not.

I would not worry about it, but I think I would try to figure out what contains the asbestos so you can avoid disturbing more (it's ok as long as it isn't disturbed). What made you have the air tested in the first place?

Do you know how your neighbors are going to react when your house is mitigated? The company that did ours said that it is sometimes a problem when the neighbors see the equipment and the hazardous waste bags. They were very discrete with an unmarked truck. If you are having your whole house cleaned, there might be more evidence on the outside of the house (I don't know this, just guessing). There were 2 decontamination chambers IIRC, a negative pressure tube going out a window, along with the bags of waste. They used plastic sheets to isolate the kitchen area, two walls of sheets I think. We didn't have any trouble with neighbors but I also didn't tell any of them.

I hope I haven't worried you more - that was certainly not what I intended. I just wanted to tell you about our experience and give you some things to consider about living with it and mitigating it. Again, your levels are so low, I cannot imagine that there is any significant health risk.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 9:20PM
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Asbestos is not something to panic about. All the fancy cleanup terminology basically just means they are going to close everything off and wipe it down. Honestly, opening the windows and a $5 pack of wet-wipes would probably knock the levels down to "safe".

My only concern would be the source of the asbestos. If it is detectable in the house, then there is something releasing it. They should test to find out what it is and either remove it or encapsulate it. You don't want to pay for a glorified whole house sponge bath just to have it recontaminated in a couple months.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:17PM
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