Lancaster County PA Realty Check: Asbestos


Asbestos is a naturally occurring material which was widely used because of its ability to withstand high heat without breaking down or burning.  Unfortunately, it was eventually discovered that it breaks down into small fibers which can become lodged in the lungs, destroying tissue and causing serious health problems, including mesothelioma, a chest and abdominal cancer, and asbestosis, a condition which makes it progressively more difficult to breathe.

In 1971 asbestos was officially listed by the EPA as a hazardous air pollutant, but it is still possible to find it in homes today.  Asbestos is considered dangerous if it is "friable", that is, if it is breaking down or falling apart.  If asbestos is found in this condition, care should be taken not to disturb it.  Only a licensed contractor trained in proper disposal practices should handle friable asbestos.

If a whitish material is found in basements around heating pipes, it may very well be asbestos.  Asbestos was pre-formed in half rounds, and then wet-gauzed around pipes.  This was commonly done between the 1920s and 1972.

In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, furnaces were insulated with asbestos.  If you see a white, powdery, chalky residue, DO NOT disturb it!  Call for a professional test, and have it professionally removed if necessary.

Asbestos can also be found in insulation installed from about 1930 through 1950.  Asbestos shingles were also used through the 1960s.  They are quite hard, and unless broken, are stable.  Care should be taken not to break them when removing them, as they are brittle and could release fibers.

If you would like no-obligation information on how an Accredited Buyers Agent can help you save money and reduce your risk, call (717) 951-5552 or email .


Brian Schulman offers expert real estate representation for buyers and sellers of homes in Lancaster County, PA.  To learn more, visit

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Comment balloon 4 commentsBrian Schulman • July 20 2007 06:32PM


Good info, Brian. Lots of things I didn't know about asbestos. There were some schools around here that needed major renovations due to being insulated with asbestos. 


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 12 years ago
There are very precise procedures involved in removing asbestos safely.  I'm sure that removal from a school would involve such procedures.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 12 years ago
Nice post Brian, many people do not understand the steps taken in schools and other locations including the residential environment when dealing with asbestos.  Nice update.
Posted by Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375, Real Estate Services You can Trust! (Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions") almost 12 years ago
Thanks, Gary.  Some forms of asbestos are safe when left alone, and some aren't.  It pays to be aware.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 12 years ago