Massachusetts Asbestos Prevention & Green Options for Homeowners
by Jesse Herman
Mesothelioma Cancer Center
Highly regarded through the greater part of the 20th century, asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was used as insulation for piping, roofing and flooring in homes. Its flame resistant and highly durable qualities made it the ideal choice for industries.
Often appearing in roof shingles, popcorn ceilings, piping and insulation, manufacturers were aware of its toxic qualities; this information was repressed from homeowners, workers and military personnel. Thousands of innocent civilians were wrongfully exposed to asbestos as a result.
When involved in real estate mortgage situations, it is especially important to embark on the proper inspections to insure the safety of your clients, building workers and your reputation. Problems with asbestos in older buildings should be addressed in a rational manner. A good course of action is to identify materials which could harvest asbestos, mark the condition and establish a plan that addresses any negative condition in the building.
Homes constructed prior to 1980 may still contain asbestos. This should not make you overly concerned because asbestos exposure can be avoidable by taking simple precautions. Many healthy green alternatives exist which make the use of asbestos an obsolete building material.
Long term exposure to asbestos may lead to the development of a rare but severe lung ailment known as malignant mesothelioma. Due to the fact many mesothelioma symptoms are similar to less serious ailments, diagnosis is one of the more difficult tasks physicians encounter.
Removal of asbestos in public facilities, workplaces and homes should be performed by licensed abatement contractors as long as the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) are not violated. They must wear protective equipment such as masks and gloves to avoid any exposure. The materials should be removed in as large pieces as possible and places in disposable bags.
"Green" home modifications will help save on energy costs and provide tax credits, but some of them may even be better for your health. If asbestos is removed, green forms of insulation should be used as replacements. These include the use implementation of recycled building materials such as lcynene foam, cotton fiber and cellulose.
For example, the use of cotton fiber foam has demonstrated to reduce energy costs by 25 % per year. As education and technology of green sustainable practices increase, the numbers will continue to rise. Recently, congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. 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 eco-sustainable methods. Existing homes are eligible for a series of efficiency measures that pertain to the home shell (Insulation, Windows, Sealing) worth 30% of the installed cost (materials only, labor is not included in the credit basis).
East Bridgewater, MA 02333
Lew Corcoran, ASP®, IAHSP, IAHSP-CB