Asbestos Facts and Safety Tips

Why Was Asbestos Used? How to avoid it.

Asbestos wicking insulation

Woven wicking used in construction. This clearly contains asbestos the known cause of mesothelioma. photo:Marshall Astor

From the time that asbestos was discovered in the first century, its properties amazed people. It had the ability to protect from heat, flames, noise and condensation. In fact, early Greeks used it for both lamp wicks and clothing.

By the 1800s, asbestos was considered to be even more of the multiple use heavily used mineral, and was used in conjunction with growth in the industry sector.

Using this material proved to be cheap and extremely efficient in all types of household construction. It seemed to offer only benefits and the drawbacks at the time were non existent. It could effectively keep flames lit, seal heat into your house, keep heat out, and provide a resilient, durable material in many aspects of the construction industry.

Where Might I find Asbestos in My Home?

Because Asbestos was such an inexpensive material, you can find examples of it in a great number of older homes. There are many examples of which I will itemize for you here.

Asbestos in Insulation

In your home you you could potentially find asbestos in insulation in your attic, in your walls or used in a heat insulator, asbestos was often placed in, around or between construction beams, water and sewer pipes, air ducts, high temperature gaskets and stovepipe rings. It was also placed in the areas of water heaters, boilers, furnace structures, incinerators, many artificial fireplaces and barbecue grilling areas.

Asbestos in paint and flooring

There are many examples in most older homes of asbestos being used in vinyl and linoleum sheet flooring and also floor backing. It was also used as an additive to paint.

What if I have vermiculite insulation in my attic?

DO NOT DISTURB IT!   By attempting to move about in the areas of insulation you could potentially be releasing asbestos fibers into the air. Breathing in these dangerous fibers is exactly what you do not want to happen.

  • Be sure you never attempt to remove the insulation or any other types of construction materials yourself, if you think there is a possibility of asbestos. You should hire professionals trained and certified to safely remove the Potentially asbestos containing material.
  •  Keep your children away from potentially asbestos infested areas. Do not allow them to go into, or play in the attic. Also do not store items in the attic if you feel you cannot easily access them without disturbing the insulation. 


Many vermiculite mining areas had a high asbestos occurrence. Today, vermiculite is mined at three U.S. facilities and in other countries which have minimal levels of contamination in the finished product.

If you are planning to renovate your house be sure to exercise extreme caution. If you are not familiar with what asbestos looks like, the areas you might find asbestos, you will need to hire a professional. Removing any type of insulation in an older home, or removal of tiles should be contracted to someone familiar with the proper safety procedure.

Asbestos is a dangerous problem and the cause of Mesothelioma. Be sure to keep your family safe and use caution when you think there is a chance of exposure.