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Sources of Indoor Air Pollution — Asbestos

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Click for more info  Asbestos and Asbestos Health Effects

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. EPA and CPSC have banned several asbestos products. Manufacturers have also voluntarily limited uses of asbestos. Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older homes, in pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials, and floor tiles.

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes.

Sources of Asbestos

Deteriorating, damaged, or disturbed insulation, fireproofing, acoustical materials, and floor tiles.

Health Effects

No immediate symptoms, but long-term risk of chest and abdominal cancers and lung diseases. Smokers are at higher risk of developing asbestos-induced lung cancer.  Integrated Risk Information System description on Asbestos - www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0371.htm#I.A. (Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number - 1332-21-4).

The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible. After they are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings), and asbestosis (irreversible lung scarring that can be fatal). Symptoms of these diseases do not show up until many years after exposure began. Most people with asbestos-related diseases were exposed to elevated concentrations on the job; some developed disease from exposure to clothing and equipment brought home from job sites.

Levels in Homes

Elevated levels can occur in homes where asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed.

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