In the last 10 years, you may have noticed a significant increase in the concern of asbestos and its health effects. As a real estate broker or agent, you must understand how asbestos can affect a real estate transactions
Let me start by answering the basic question; what exactly is asbestos? Asbestos is the name of a group of fibrous minerals with long and thin fibers. That doesn't sound so bad, why all the fuss over some fibers? Well, asbestos may be thin, but they are very durable. So durable in fact that they find their way into lung tissue and remain there for a long time. When asbestos infects the lung tissue it can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and cancer.
From a health perspective, you don't want asbestos anywhere near your lungs. So, where are all these asbestos fibers hiding? Asbestos is naturally occurring in serpentine and ultramafic rock. Asbestos is also used in many building materials (especially on buildings built before 1987) such as roofing material, floor tiles, piping, and fire doors to name a few. So if asbestos is so harmful, why is it used in building materials you ask? Well, asbestos isn't a concern if the building material is in good condition. If the condition of the material is damaged, and there is a possibility that the asbestos fibers could have turned to a powder, then a health problem could arise if you breathe enough of it over time.
This problem leaves the average home buyer and seller confused. What are my consequences relating to asbestos if I buy a home where asbestos is naturally occurring in rocks? If naturally occurring asbestos has been confirmed in your area, minimizing the release of fibers should be of paramount importance. Don't drive, jog, or use heavy equipment on unpaved roads. Driving on unpaved roads lifts the asbestos fibers out of the ground which increases the chance of the fibers finding their way to your lungs. Also, be sure to wipe your shoes off outside, before coming indoors. As a supplement to this practice, clean your floors often. Since children often play outside and get dirty, it is especially important to tell them to take off their shoes prior to entering your house and wash their hands if they are dirty. If you are gardening or digging in your yard, keep an eye out for rocks such as the rock featured in this article.
All of this information is not meant to scare the average homeowner. Once asbestos is found in your community, your local government goes through thorough steps to investigate and remediate the situation. For more information on asbestos in your area, consult your local city hall.