You Probably Want to Change Out Your Insulation by Krista Peterson

Thanks to the Green Living Guy’s blog post on going green for the spring season, we already know that insulating attics can save money and energy in the long run. It’s a great way to keep your house cool during the upcoming summer months, and also serves to warm your home up during brutal DC winters. But even if you have older insulation, leaks and wear and tear still let air in and out, costing both you and the environment. You may want to consider changing out old insulation as well. But saving on energy isn’t the only reason for changing insulation.

As late as 1975, insulation in homes contained a material called asbestos. Asbestos is a natural mineral mined from deposits in the earth. It was used because it was inexpensive, easy to handle, and fire-retardant. It also resisted rusting and molding. The material was completely harmless when intact and undisturbed. Now, however, we know that asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen.

When asbestos materials are damaged or disturbed, fine, nearly invisible fibers are released into the air. These fibers attach to clothes, hair, and shoes and can be transported easily, exposing neighbors, friends, and family members to the fibers, which then can be inhaled or ingested. Over a prolonged period of exposure, the fibers collect in the lining of the lungs or abdomen, resulting in severe scarring. This scarred tissue can eventually become cancerous and lead to mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer of the lungs. Mesothelioma symptoms are subtle and can lie dormant for 20-50 years after you or your family members are exposed to asbestos. Because of this dormancy, mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed or diagnosis is delayed. Late diagnoses mean that the cancer has often already spread to vital organs and treatment is difficult or ineffective. Mesothelioma life expectancy rates are low and patients generally only live for a few months after diagnosis.

To protect your family from the dangers of mesothelioma, it’s a very good idea to have your insulation inspected for asbestos contamination, especially if your home was constructed or insulated before 1975. If you think your insulation contains asbestos, contact a certified asbestos abatement professional for removal. In the end, new insulation saves you money, cuts energy waste, and reduces your risk for mesothelioma.

Krista is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida. I am an aspiring writer with a passion for health and environmental issues. I use my writings to spread awareness of such issues to encourage others to live the greenest and healthiest life possible.