Asbestos is an incredibly common household hazard, and one of the most famous ones out there along with lead-based paint. It is a known carcinogen and has been linked to ailments like mesothelioma, and lung, ovarian, and gastrointestinal cancers.

Asbestos can even be dangerous in small doses, and secondary exposure is often just as dangerous as primary exposure.

In this article, we will talk about what kind of homes might be at risk from asbestos and what you can do to test. Additionally, we will discuss when it might be a good idea to try testing your home for asbestos yourself and when it is a better idea to call a professional.

Finally, we will end with a small list of dos and don’ts about dealing with asbestos. Please remember that asbestos is incredibly dangerous, and you should never come into contact with it without proper safety equipment if you do choose to deal with it on your own.

Asbestos in homes today

Asbestos is a mineral that’s mined from the ground. For a very long time in the mid-twentieth century, it was used in the construction of all different types of buildings in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other countries as a method of insulation.

If you know anything about asbestos, it’s probably that in the 1970s and 80s, houses that had been built using asbestos about thirty years earlier in the 1950s and 60s, started to degrade and released asbestos fibers. At this point, it became pretty apparent that asbestos was very dangerous.

You have probably also heard of the legislation passed in 1989 that outlawed the use of asbestos in construction. Given that, you might expect that most of the danger from asbestos in homes is over.

This, however, is not true for two reasons.

First, although using asbestos was outlawed in homes, there are still lots of homes with intact asbestos insulation in them that were built before 1989, and if you live in an old house that hasn’t ever been remodeled, you might have asbestos to deal with.

Second, the laws that illegalized using asbestos were amended only a few short months after they were introduced, and there are still lots of products that use it, including siding, roofing, cement sheets, flooring, gaskets, pipes, and shingles.

Granted, the Environmental Protection Agency has safety guidelines for these uses, but it is still a mistake to think that asbestos is completely gone from modern construction.

DIY Asbestos Testing

If you suspect your home might have asbestos in it, don’t panic! Most of the time, asbestos fibers in a house remain harmless until the insulation that they are a part of is damaged somehow. This can be in floor tiling, drywall, paint, cement, and plenty of other places.

Unfortunately, without a label, chemical testing is necessary to detect its presence. You can do this a couple ways, and while the easiest and cheapest approach is probably to buy a DIY chemical testing kit, which will run you between $30 and $60 depending on what you get and where you are subjecting yourself to the danger of exposure to a deadly chemical.

While this can seem like an attractive option, professionals are well versed with the dangers of asbestos and are experienced with handling it. They can run the tests and make repairs while protecting themselves and your home. Without proper safety measures, even minor exposure to asbestos fibers can be very hazardous.

Dos and don’ts of dealing with asbestos

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it presents a few things to keep in mind when dealing with asbestos in the home.


  • Leave undamaged construction that might contain asbestos alone.
  • Limit children’s exposure to areas with potential asbestos presence.
  • Always have testing and repairs done by a professional.


  • Dust, sweep, or vacuum when asbestos might be present – all you will do is spread the fibers around.
  • Saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in those same areas, for the same reasons.
  • Use a power stripper on flooring that may contain asbestos.
  • Track material that might have asbestos in it into other areas of your home.

If you absolutely must clean somehow, use a wet mop. If a large area is damaged or must be cleaned, call a professional.

In conclusion, purchasing and using an at home asbestos kit is not recommended because the materials which you think may contain asbestos should not be disturbed. Asbestos is a deadly compound which you do not want yourself or your family exposed to.