Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used in building materials to give them added strength, it was also used because it is an effective heat insulator and is good for fire resistance. It was used in construction until the 1970’s and with the benefits it provided, we can see why it was thought to be a good product before much was known of the dangers.
Why is asbestos harmful? When someone is exposed to asbestos fibers (which are very small) over a prolonged period of time, very serious health problems can occur such as Mesothelioma which is a type of lung cancer and Asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs. If you disturb asbestos, which is easily done if you are fixing up an old home by sanding, scraping or handling it in general, tiny asbestos fibers can be released into the air and you can easily breathe them in. These fibers will then stay in the lungs for a long time, increasing your risk of disease. We can see, then, that if you find asbestos in your home, it would be recommended to be removed.
Can you remove the asbestos yourself if you find it in your old home? You should not try to remove it yourself but seek the advice of someone who specializes in asbestos removal and who are properly trained to do so. If you are not certain that there is asbestos in the home, why not have it inspected and find out for sure.