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10 Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos: What is asbestos? Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was mined heavily throughout the industrial age and is still mined in some countries throughout the world.  Asbestos was widely used throughout the industry because of its tensile strength, resistance to fire and chemicals, and in its natural form could be woven into cloth like materials.  It is the only known substance on the planet that will not burn. When did they stop using asbestos? Most asbestos containing products were phased out during the 1970s.  Some products can still be purchased that contain asbestos, especially those manufactured overseas where regulations are not as stringent.  In order to liquidate stock, some products that were manufactured in the 1970s were still sold, but no longer produced, in the 1980s. What types of materials might contain asbestos? It has been estimated that over 3,000 products currently exist that have the potential of being asbestos containing.  These products include but are not limited to floor, wall and ceiling systems, roofing and siding products, thermal insulation, flooring and ceiling tiles, glues, fireproofing sprays, and attic insulation.  The only confirmed products that are not asbestos containing are wood, glass, rubber, vinyl, and metal. Can I remove asbestos in my home myself? Current rules and regulations state that a homeowner (i.e., the actual owner of the property) is allowed to remove asbestos from his/her home.  Prior to doing so, you must check with all local, state, and federal agencies for proper transport and disposal methods for these materials.  In addition, if you are not familiar with asbestos removal, we strongly recommend that as much research be done as possible prior to any impact of these regulated materials.  Without doing so, there is a high probability that you could expose yourself, family, friends, or others to hazardous concentrations of asbestos.  We never recommend that a homeowner perform removal activities themselves due to the possibility of exposure and potential litigation... not because we want your money, it's because:  If asbestos is improperly removed, decontamination costs could run 10-20 times more than hiring a licensed remediation contractor to properly remove the materials. How much does an asbestos survey cost? Prices vary due to size and scope of inspections needed.  Please call for a quotation. Can I tell by looking at a material if it is asbestos containing? No.  As mentioned above, unless a material is wood, glass, rubber, vinyl or metal,  it remains suspect for asbestos and must be treated as such. Can I leave asbestos products in my property? This is a difficult question to answer.  It depends on the type of material and the condition of the material.  If an asbestos product is in good condition (and will most likely remain in good condition), most times it is better to leave it alone. What must I do before I renovate or demolish my property? Since many materials remain suspect for asbestos, inspections of material being impacted must be performed by licensed individuals prior to performing any activity that could change the matrix of any material being impacted by either renovation or demolition.  Most counties in the DC metro area require a permit before performing any renovation or demolition activities. When is asbestos considered dangerous? When it becomes airborne and can be ingested.  Unfortunately, disturbing asbestos in any way will usually send it airborne.  Care must be taken to contain the asbestos before disturbing it... remediation specialist are trained in containment methods that conform to all codes, laws and regulations.  Failure to handle hazardous substances per local codes can expose you and others to asbestos... and could be illegal. How long does it take for symptoms to appear  in regards to asbestos related illnesses after exposure? Typically asbestos related diseases take from 10 to 30 years before symptoms manifest themselves.  Other factors such as smoking and unhealthy lifestyle could accelerate this process.