By: Joe Lederman

As citizens of this planet, we have an inherited obligation to care and nurture the world we live in. For a significant portion of the 20th century, the construction and building industry was plagued with many harmful materials that not only poses many risks for home owners and workers, but for the environment.  Living in the 21st century, we are in the midst of moving towards a green paradigm, away from health damaging materials. With a growing amount of education and resources in environmentally sustainable products, many states in the United States are leading the switch towards living GREEN!

When embarking on the path to home ownership or home remodeling, there are many things that need to be considered and additional responsibilities that will be required. Highly regarded throughout the 20th century, asbestos was considered the pinnacle of building materials, posing many intrinsic qualities that manufacturers loved. It’s fire resistant, durable and versatile components made it sought out by many industries. Asbestos was used in industrial products such as insulation, piping, roofing and flooring products.

Many public facilities, homes and buildings built before 1980 may still be harboring asbestos and other hazardous materials. If any of these are suspected, experts will almost always advise to leave it un-disturbed as this can damage it, releasing its fibers airborne. If it is determined that asbestos should be removed, leave it un-disturbed until a licensed contractor can safely remove the material. There are now many green alternatives that not only replace the need for asbestos, but can reduce annual energy costs.

There are many green, eco-friendly materials that replace the need for asbestos and can reduce energy costs annually.

Although most asbestos material does not pose a risk, consistent exposure can lead to lung ailments such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. With a latency period lasting 20 to 50 years and no mesothelioma cure, it accounts for three percent of cancer diagnoses in the U.S.  Mesothelioma treatments have varied affects on patients and many variables can affect patient prognosis.

GO GREEN: Breathe Easy, Live Simply

The United States Green Building Council is a non for profit organization working to make homes, buildings and facilities go green within a generation. Green building can and must be available to all people. This will lead to a better quality of life not only for the country, but around the world. Many are unaware that eco-friendly materials can reduce annual energy costs by 25 percent. The United States Green Building Council also conducted a study which estimated a new savings of $50-$65 per square foot for positively constructed green buildings. As education and technology of green sustainable practices increase, the numbers will continue to rise.

Many cities in the U.S. have established lumberyards that can re-store where recycled building materials are available. Instead of using old practices such as mal treated wood for interior walls, it can be constructed from concrete or steel, reducing the amount of risks associated with asbestos and obsolete methods of insulation. These healthy alternatives to asbestos include the use of lcynene foam, cotton fiber and cellulose.  Made from recycled batted material, cotton fiber is becoming a prominent form of insulation, containing the same fireproof qualities that once made asbestos the most sought after building substance.

Living in a world where environmental sustainability is a vital concern to the future of mankind, it is important to take note of the consequences of improper building materials and environmental degradation. These asbestos alternatives allow for a healthy, safe home, free of health deteriorating materials.

Joe Lederman
Mesothelioma Cancer Center

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