September Newsletter

Breathe Easy: Asbestos & Lead Exposure Awareness

Asbestos and lead are substances that were commonly used in construction and various products in the past. Asbestos was once hailed for its heat-resistant and insulating properties and lead was frequently used in paints and pipes. However, they have both since been identified as significant health hazards, causing severe health issues when their particles are inhaled or ingested.

Looming Dangers

  • Respiratory Complications: Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to a range of respiratory complications, including fibrosis that scars lung tissue, diminishes lung function, induces inflammation, and gives rise to pleural effusions marked by fluid accumulation in the chest cavity. This exposure can result in respiratory diseases like asbestosis, characterized by chronic lung scarring that reduces elasticity and hampers breathing.
  • Increased Susceptibility to Infections: Asbestos exposure can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to respiratory infections.
  • Organ System Damage: Even minimal exposure to lead can detrimentally impact nearly every organ system in the body.


  • Cancer: Long-term exposure to asbestos has been linked to an increased risk of cancers in organs such as the larynx, ovaries, gastrointestinal tract, and especially lungs.
  • Mesothelioma: Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and often fatal cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
  • Child Vulnerability: Lead exposure can result in developmental delays, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems in children that can have long-lasting effects on their well-being.

Asbestos Contamination

Building Age: Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials until the late 1980s. If a building was constructed before this period, there’s a higher likelihood of asbestos-containing materials being present.

Visual Inspection: Check for materials that appear fibrous or crumbly, such as insulation, ceiling tiles, or pipe insulation, which might indicate asbestos content.

Popcorn Ceiling: Textured “popcorn” ceilings in older buildings often contain asbestos. Avoid disturbing these ceilings without professional testing.

Vinyl Flooring: Asbestos was used in some vinyl floor tiles and linoleum products. Damaged or deteriorating tiles might release asbestos fibers.

Insulation: Insulation materials in attics, walls, and around pipes might contain asbestos. Avoid disturbing these areas.

Lead Contamination

Building Age: Buildings constructed before 1978 are more likely to have lead-based paint on surfaces like walls, doors, and windows.

Chipped or Peeling Paint: Cracking, chipping, or peeling paint on surfaces can indicate lead-based paint. It can create dust or chips that pose a risk, especially to children.

Sweet Taste: In cases of extreme lead exposure, some individuals may experience a sweet or metallic taste in their mouths.

Water Pipes: Lead can be present in water pipes, especially in older building. If water from the tap appears discolored or has a metallic taste, it might contain lead.

Lead-Glazed Ceramics: Some older ceramics, pottery, and dishes might contain lead-based glazes. Be cautious when using these for food or drink.

Compliance Codes: The Cornerstone of Safety

The microscopic fibers of asbestos can easily become airborne during renovation, remodeling, or demolition work, putting workers, residents, and bystanders at risk. It’s paramount that any potential asbestos or lead-containing materials are identified, handled, and removed by professionals trained in hazardous material abatement. Attempting to remove these substances without proper training and equipment can exacerbate the risks by releasing harmful particles into the air.

To ensure the safety of all, strict laws and regulations govern the handling and disposal of asbestos and lead-containing materials. These regulations aim to minimize the risk of exposure to both workers and the general public. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and legal consequences.

See Asbestos & Lead Abatement in Action