There are a variety of issues that go into buying or remodeling a home. After all, it's the place where most will spend a few years and maybe even a lifetime occupying. One important step deals with the prevention of asbestos.
Asbestos has been banned in the United States since 1980 but for older homes that are often remodeled, it can still be a problem. This is not to say that if you live in a home built before 1980 that you should live in fear. On the contrary, asbestos is perfectly find as long as it goes undisturbed. Once the fibers are airborne, though, that's when exposure is possible and the risk of future lung ailments rises.
The major medical complication that can arise is a deadly lung cancer called mesothelioma. This can be a very bad thing because the mesothelioma life expectancy is often very short. It should be noted though that diagnosis can take very long and mesothelioma symptoms may not appear until 20 to even 50 years after exposure.
Hiring a licensed abatement contractor in your area in clearly the way to go before investing in major remodeling work. Professional home inspectors generally operate at a reasonable price and provide the peace of mind needed for healthy living.
The insulation alternatives to asbestos are plentiful, effective and much better for the environment. This includes recycled building materials such as lcynene foam, cotton fiber and cellulose. Cotton fiber foam in particular has proven to lower energy costs up to 25%.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, recently approved by congress, also has tax incentives for citizens opting for more ‘green' materials. So not only can you save in the long run but you can also benefit quickly. Any remodeling done to a home shell is worth 30% of the installed cost, with only parts and not labor included in the price savings.
Problem Unique to Illinois
In Illinois asbestos in older homes and building is not the only problem to be aware of. The Johns-Manville Superfund Site is home to one million tons of asbestos waste in the form of wastewater sludge. Once in awhile this water is drained into Lake Michigan and water currents have carried asbestos fibers as far as Chicago's Oak Street Beach.
Much of this asbestos settled on the bottom of the lake but dredging stirs it up and the fibers are washed on shore. Some of this sediment has even been used to replenish beaches that needed sand. There are differences of opinion as to whether this truly is a health hazard to Illinois citizens but at the very least I think we can all agree it's disgusting.
According to Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society President Paul Kakuris, "Waves wash fibers onto the beaches where sand releases asbestos during beach activities, exposing millions of unwitting victims to deadly asbestos fibers while corrupt public officials and polluters' consultants rigged studies, using government funds." This particular group advices against relaxing at these beaches.
As always, awareness is the best prevention. Be aware of the potential threats and take preventative measures and you should be ok.