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The other day I ran into of my friends in Porter Square at a restaurant called Christophers. As we were talking about old times, I asked how a couple we both knew were doing on their house renovation in Sommerville. This was an old victorian house that needed major renovations.

He sadly told me that they both died of cancer.  One was 58 years old when he died of mesothelioma and the other was 63 when she died of ovarian cancer.

Real Estate and Asbestos

There’s no known safe level of asbestos exposure, and medical research indicates these fibers can cause severe lung diseases and cancer in 10 to 30 years after the initial asbestos exposure.

They lived in an old house that while it was being renovated until its completion for a total of five years

People think of old pipes and boiler systems that are covered with asbestos insulation and do not consider the many other places it can be found.

Here are some of the places asbestos can be found in a house:

Adhesives

Appliance components

Ceiling products

  • Ceiling texture (Popcorn texture)
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Ceiling tile mastic

Cement-asbestos board (Transite) products

  • Chimney flue lining
  • Ducts
  • Pipes
  • Shingles
  • Siding
  • Wall panels

Electrical products

  • Cloth wire insulation
  • Electrical panels

Flooring Products

  • Asphalt floor tiles
  • Floor tile mastic
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Vinyl sheet flooring (linoleum)

Heating and Cooling System products

  • Boiler insulation
  • Ductwork insulation
  • Furnace insulation
  • Gaskets
  • Heat shields (paper and corrugated cardboard)
  • Pipe insulation
  • Tank insulation

Paints and coatings

Plaster

Roofing Products

  • Base flashing
  • Felt
  • Shingles
  • Tar or “Black Jack”

Table pads

Vermiculite

  • Attic and wall insulation
  • Fireplace decoration
  • Gardening products

Vinyl wall coverings

Wall applications

  • Caulking and putties
  • Spackling compounds

Wallboard or sheetrock

Wallboard joint compound

Window glazing

Boston Real Estate and the Bottom Line

There isn’t any way of knowing if the house killed the couple and the new owners may not know anything about previous owners who both died of cancer.
Don’t let this scare you away from old houses. We probably won’t know for a few decades which products that are being used in new construction are hazardous either.

Boston Condos for Sale

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