The Dangers of Asbestos in Building Materials

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The following is a guest post by Joe Lederman of

Energy and sustainability fuel many facets of life in the United States. With a growing amount of education and technology in sustainable resources, many countries are leading the way towards a paradigm of green building and construction. In the world of home remodeling, there are many things that should be taken into consideration.  Asbestos is one of them.

Asbestos was highly regarded throughout the 20th century as an ideal building and construction material. Its fire resistant, durable and versatile qualities made it sought after by many industries. Asbestos was used in industrial applications such as insulation, piping, roofing and in automobiles.

Many homes, buildings and public facilities built prior to 1980, may still contain asbestos and other hazardous materials. In many instances, the best action is no action at all. Disturbing asbestos in good condition may cause its fibers to be released into the air. If any asbestos is located or suspected, experts advise not to touch or disturb it, as this will cause its fibers to become airborne. If asbestos needs to be removed, it should be performed by licensed abatement contractors. These contractors are trained in the proper handling and disposal of asbestos in public facilities and homes.

The inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to the development of rare, but severe lung ailments such as malignant pleural mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos-related illnesses have long latency periods, sometimes lasting 20 to 50 years after exposure. Due to the fact that symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to less serious conditions, diagnosis is a difficult task for physicians.


As long term cost and technology continues to evolve, so is the need for environmentally sustainable and healthy materials used for construction.  Implementing green methods of building can have positive environmental, health and economic benefits. These include: conservation of natural resources, enhance air quality, protect ecosystems, energy sustainability, increase property value, improve quality of life, improvement of pulmonary and cardiac health, and reduction of waste.  Most people are unaware of the fact that eco-friendly products can cut energy costs by 25 to 35% per year. Green insulation options include recycled cotton fiber and cellulose, lcynene spray foam and soy-based spray foam.

Recently, congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Included in this act were extensions to the tax incentives placed for energy efficiency in 2005, as well as new credits for homeowners who remodel or build using sustainable technologies. For existing homes, tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 & 2010, for adding:  energy efficient doors, windows, roofs, insulation, HVAC systems, and biomass stoves.  For existing homes and new construction, tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016, for:  geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar hot water heaters, small wind energy systems, and fuel cells.  Visit the Energy Star website for more information.

Tag(s): Energy, Hazardous Products / Health Issues


One Response to “The Dangers of Asbestos in Building Materials”

  1. Sara on November 13th, 2009 6:56 pm

    Is there a way to find out if previous owners of a building, or home knew that there were dangerous levels of asbestos? I would probably find a mesothelioma asbestos attorneyto see what my options are, if any in terms of filing a lawsuit.

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