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7 Surprising Household Materials That May Contain Asbestos

Asbestos is an inexpensive, strong, and fire-resistant mineral that used to be a popular construction material. Now, everyone knows that asbestos causes cancer, so it's fallen out of favor, but if your home was built before 1980, asbestos could be lurking in many places. You probably already know that asbestos could be in your home's insulation, but asbestos was used in a huge variety of applications. Here are seven surprising places where asbestos could be hiding inside your home.

Popcorn ceilings

Popcorn ceilings, also known as Stucco ceilings, may contain asbestos. The bumpy texture of the ceiling used to be created with asbestos fibers. Using asbestos in ceiling treatments was banned back in 1978, but unbelievably, builders were allowed to keep using it until they'd exhausted their supply. By the end of the 1980s, asbestos finally stopped being used in popcorn ceilings.

Old gas-fired fireplaces

Asbestos is a fire-resistant material, so before people knew it was dangerous, it was the perfect material to make decorative fireplace logs and ashes with. This isn't an issue with newer fireplaces, but if you have a gas-fired fireplace that was installed in 1978 or earlier, your decorative logs may be harboring asbestos. The artificial ashes included with these older fireplaces also contain asbestos at levels of 90% to 100%.

Kitchen backsplashes

Backsplashes add interest to your kitchen and make it easy for you to clean food spills off of your walls, but if you live in an older house, your backsplash could contain asbestos fibers. Wall tiles used to contain asbestos to help prevent kitchen fires, but when these tiles wear out or get damaged, they release asbestos fibers into the air. You can also release the asbestos if you remove the backsplash to replace it with something more modern.

Mortar

Mortar is the paste that holds bricks in place. If your home was built before the mid-1980s and has a brick or cinder block exterior, it's very likely that your mortar contains asbestos. Asbestos was added to mortar to make it stronger and more fire resistant, but when the mortar begins to crumble with age, it releases asbestos fibers into the air. Removing the mortar isn't usually possible, but it's possible to get the mortar sealed to keep the asbestos fibers in place.

Wires

Even the electrical wiring inside your house could contain asbestos. Asbestos was a popular material in wiring because it is fire resistant and reduced the risk of electrical fires, but anyone who works around these wires is at risk. This includes do-it-yourself enthusiasts who knock down walls and expose the wires or perform their own electrical work. 

Curtains

In older homes, even the curtains can be dangerous. If you still have curtains from the 1980s or earlier in your home, they may contain asbestos. Because asbestos is fire resistant, it used to be added to curtains to make the fabric less likely to burn. As the fabric ages, it wears out, and when this happens, the asbestos fibers are released.

Pipes

Asbestos cement pressure pipes were installed until the 1980s and were used to transport water into homes. These pipes have been discontinued, but they're still in place in many homes. These pipes are brittle, and when they crack, asbestos fibers are released. If you do your own plumbing work, you could be exposed to the asbestos.

Asbestos is famous for its use in insulation, but it was used for a wide variety of household applications. If you plan to renovate your older home, have it inspected for asbestos to avoid accidentally stirring up asbestos fibers. If asbestos is found, it can be safely removed by professionals. For more information, contact a business such as American Abatement.


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