A Leader in Environmental Remediation in Southern California

What’s Lurking in Your Home?

Your home is your safe haven. It’s where you raise your children, go to sleep every night, and gather with friends. But did you know your home can also be harboring dangerous toxins?

Many older homes were made before Americans knew the dangers of asbestos and lead. They were used in insulation, plumbing, ceilings and walls, and children’s toys. While newer homes have moved away from using these components now that we know the dangers, your old fixer-upper may have some dark secrets lurking in the shadows.


In the era of do-it-yourself, older homes are prime suspects for asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral that was used in many products and industrial supplies before people were fully aware of the dangers it posed. When a product that was made with asbestos is damaged or disturbed, it can release microscopic fibers of asbestos into the air--these fibers are toxic if inhaled as they stick inside your lungs and can cause cancer.

Asbestos in Your Life

Americans are now aware of asbestos-related illness and its consequences, but asbestos was a common construction material before the 1980s. Owners of older homes will want to be especially cautious of the following areas:

  • Roof shingles

  • Spray-on insulation

  • Ceiling and floor tiles

  • Popcorn ceilings

  • Textured paint

The use of asbestos for most purposes was regulated in 1970, but the material isn’t banned by any means--in 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that as much as 750 metric tons of asbestos was imported to the United States. The majority of home asbestos exposure relates to DIY renovation jobs. Installing attic insulation, the removal of popcorn ceilings, drilling in drywall, and removing vinyl tiles. These are all jobs that should be left alone until you’ve had a professional test your home for asbestos. If any materials or areas of your home should test positively for asbestos, professional removal teams have the equipment to get the job done in a safe, effective manner.

The Dangers

No amount of asbestos exposure is safe, but most health concerns start with repeated, long-term exposure. Asbestos-exposure can cause serious illness when inhaled or ingested. Human bodies can process and pass some fibers, but most will get trapped in the lungs or digestive tract.

Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer. Noncancerous conditions can include asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural effusion, diffuse pleural thickening, pleurisy, and atelectasis. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually. And asbestos-related diseases kill more than 12,000 Americans each year.

The EWG Action Fund states this number includes 1,000 deaths from asbestosis and 8,000 to 10,000 deaths from lung cancer.


Lead is another silent intruder into your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 87% of homes built prior to 1940 may have lead components included in the construction somewhere.

Lead in Your Home

Anyone who is familiar with Flint, Michigan knows how lead in drinking water can cause huge issues. Many older homes were built with lead piping. The pipes that carry your water can also carry lead into your drinking water supply. While the amount of lead allowed in plumbing was regulated in 2014, the issue to worry about is the lead soldering in piping. The soldering can be affected by different chemical reactions that corrode your pipes, releasing lead into your drinking water.

The Dangers

Lead poisoning commonly affects young children who are more susceptible to the effects of lead and can cause behavioral problems, slower learning, slowed growth, and anemia. Severe cases of lead ingestion can cause seizures and even death. Older adults and pregnant women are also more at risk when it comes to the effects of lead exposure. Your pediatrician can test your child for lead poisoning. Be sure to have your home tested for lead exposure, too.


Lead and asbestos can wreak havoc on your home, family, and health. Play it safe--don’t pursue any home renovation projects yourself until your home has been tested for asbestos, and have your home’s paint and drinking water tested for lead if you’re concerned about lead poisoning.

Burns Environmental Services is your full-service environmental remediation and clean-up team. We can handle asbestos testing and removal, mold remediation, and lead abatement, among other services. If you’re concerned about the health of your family in your home, contact our team online or at (800) 577-4009 today.