Homes built before 1980 are the most likely to have asbestos containing materials. Newer homes are less likely to have large quantities of asbestos. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in a variety of building materials such as siding, ceiling and floor tiles, stucco, sheetrock/joint compound, ceiling texture (popcorn ceiling), caulking, construction mastic, insulation, and roofing materials.
Federal and state asbestos regulations typically do not apply to work done at private homes. However, if a homeowner wants a licensed asbestos contractor to remove materials, make repairs, or renovate or demolish their home, the contractor must comply with all asbestos regulations.
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by disturbing asbestos-containing materials during building repairs, renovations, or demolitions. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in such a way to release dusty particles and fibers into the air. Asbestos containing materials that have not been disturbed can safely remain in place.
People exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, such as contractors who do not follow federal and state health-protective regulations for asbestos, are most at risk for developing asbestos related diseases. Those who are exposed to large amounts of asbestos over a period of time have a greater chance of developing harmful health effects, such as lung cancer or other respiratory diseases. Disease symptoms may take many years to develop after being exposed to asbestos.
If homeowners decide to do work on their homes themselves or hire a non-licensed asbestos contractor, the following work practices and procedures should be followed to minimize airborne asbestos fiber releases and personal exposure:
DHEC issues licenses for asbestos contractors. A list of licensed contractors that can perform asbestos abatement and demolition activities in South Carolina can be found at www.scdhec.gov/Apps/Environment/AsbestosContractorsAndConsultants/.
Additional information about asbestos can be found at www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/YourHomeEnvironmentalandSafetyConcerns/AsbestosInfoforHomeowners/ or by calling (803) 898-4289.