If you live in an older apartment or home in Illinois, you may have suspected the presence of asbestos. To better determine if you have asbestos in the home, you first need to understand what it is. Illinois EPA defines asbestos as a naturally-occurring mineral that can separate into tiny fibers, smaller than the naked eyes can see.
Homes built before the mid-1970s are more likely to have asbestos. The material is corrosion-resistant and offers excellent insulation. Because of this, houses built in the 1970s and sometimes even into the late 1980s may include asbestos in the makeup. Materials that contain more than 1% of asbestos are especially harmful as when dry, they may crumble and release the tiny fibers into the air. Long-term exposure may lead to respiratory illnesses and cancers.
If your home was originally built before the 1980s, and especially before the mid-1970s, consider hiring a licensed contractor to inspect the property. Lab results from samples collected may help to either confirm or deny your suspicions. You may find asbestos virtually anywhere in your home if it is present, including in the insulation, on the exterior surfaces and as part of built-in equipment.
If your home does have asbestos, then you may want to remove it. The EPA advises against this as disturbing the material may lead to the release of those tiny fibers into the air. It is often best to leave it in place and simply repair any dry or brittle material. Encapsulation may also help to provide a seal that prevents further release of asbestos fibers into the air. Enclosure uses a permanent airtight barrier to achieve the same effect.
These are options to consider if you own your home. If you rent your home, then things may be a little more complicated. You may need to speak with your landlord and/or seek professional advice.
This article provides information from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on asbestos in the home. It should not be misconstrued as or used in place of legal advice.