New homes are no longer built using insulation that contains asbestos. However, before the 1980s homes using blanket, block, loose-fill, or spray-on insulation may contain this naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Undisturbed asbestos has not been proven to pose health risks. However, asbestos insulation that is disturbed can put you, your family, your tenants, and your colleagues at risk. Here’s what you need to know about asbestos insulation.

What is Asbestos Insulation?

Asbestos slows the transfer of heat. This made it an ideal material to include in insulation for decades. When the fibers remained in the insulation it served to keep millions of homes and commercial properties warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also boasted fire resistance qualities. 

Unfortunately, it took until the 1960s for scientists to confidently conclude that there was a direct connection between health problems and inhaled asbestos. Tragically, by then, countless individuals had developed respiratory and pulmonary problems, some of which resulted in deaths.  

By the early 1970s, the widespread use of products that contained asbestos began to slow.  Asbestos insulation was one such product. Today, insulation no longer contains asbestos. 

Is Asbestos in My Insulation Dangerous?

If you have asbestos insulation, it can make you sick. However, it may take up to 20-30 years before symptoms of asbestos exposure begin. If you know that you have asbestos in your home or commercial property, you should plan to have the insulation removed by a professional company that specializes in asbestos removal (known as abatement). 

Undisturbed, intact asbestos insulation does not put you, your family, your tenants or your colleagues at risk. But it may only take one instance of water damage, mold, pest infestation, or construction work such as a remodel to disturb the insulation, making the asbestos airborne.

Signs of asbestos-related illnesses include:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Facial or neck swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Ongoing hoarseness
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in chest
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness 
  • Wide, round fingernails and toenails 

Asbestos exposure can cause very serious and fatal conditions including:

  • Asbestosis
  • GI tract cancers
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung lining scarring
  • Mesothelioma (cancer of the chest and lining of the stomach)
  • Pleural effusions
  • Throat cancer

If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical care. 

Does My Home or Commercial Property Have Insulation that Contains Asbestos

Asbestos is found in both vermiculite and asbestos pipe insulation. Vermiculite insulation looks like pebbles. It is typically grayish-brown or silvery gold.  It is known as loose-fill insulation and won’t have visible paper backing. It may look lumpy.  

Pipe insulation looks like cardboard. It may be white or gray. If you find corrugated edges on this insulation that is wrapped around pipes, it likely contains asbestos.

If you believe that you have asbestos insulation in a property you own, do not attempt to remove it on your own. Instead, seek out a reputable asbestos abatement company to schedule safe removal.  

Book an Appointment for Asbestos Removal in Western Oregon

ProKleen Restoration & Environmental Services provides complete emergency restoration throughout Western Oregon. Founded in 1994, ProKleen provides water damage cleanup, fire damage cleanup, smoke smell removal, mold inspection and removal, biohazard and trauma cleanup, carpet and upholstery cleaning, air duct cleaning, and asbestos removal. Send us a message to book your appointment or call 541-857-1818.