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Information for the Homeowner
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name of a group of naturally occurring minerals whose crystals form into long, thin fibers. It has been used in thousands of products because of its unique properties such as high tensile strength, flexibility, acoustical properties, and resistance to thermal, chemical, and electrical conditions. If inhaled, asbestos can cause diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Symptoms of these diseases generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years after exposure. There is no safe level of exposure known. Asbestos is only dangerous when its deteriorated to the point where the microscopic asbestos fibers can be released into the air and inhaled.
What common products contain asbestos?
Asbestos has been used in over 3,600 different building products including spray-on ceiling and wall texture, fireproofing, plaster, pipe coverings, floor tile, ceiling tile, roofing felt, concrete pipes and exterior siding.
How do I know if I have asbestos in my home?
Asbestos in materials can only be identified by using a microscope. Samples of a suspect material can be taken by the homeowner, but precautions should be followed. The material should be lightly wetted before sampling; place the material in a sample container or small zip lock bag; tightly seal and label before sending the sample to a laboratory for analysis. For a list of laboratories that perform analysis, please contact the Department.
What do I do if I find asbestos in my home?
Asbestos-containing material that is in good condition and is not disturbed usually does not present a problem. However, if the material will be disturbed or is not in good condition, it is not generally recommended that a homeowner remove the material themselves; this is best done by a trained asbestos contractor.
Questions should be directed to the ND Department of Health at 701.476.4122 or 701.328.5188.
Asbestos fibers under a microscope (in blue)
Copyright � 2005 North Dakota Department of Health