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Asbestos in your apartment: Steps to take

Residents of an apartment building in Cincinnati were recently shaken to learn that they had unknowingly lived in close proximity to asbestos. Making matters worse, the building removed the asbestos without notifying residents.

Unfortunately, this story is not an entirely uncommon one. Asbestos was commonly used in the building materials for many apartment buildings constructed before the 1980s. While asbestos was discovered in the basement laundry room of the Cincinnati building, it can lurk in many places, including in ceilings, drywall, insulation, paints and more. As a renter, what should you know about the potential risks of asbestos and steps to take?

Understand the dangers of asbestos

In your quest to find the perfect apartment, you may overlook the fine print of your rental agreement detailing the possibility of asbestos in the building. While it is often unrealistic to disregard such properties in your apartment search, it is important to understand the risks of asbestos. Exposure to the material can lead to breathing issues, mesothelioma and cancers of the lung, larynx, ovaries and more.

When should you be concerned?

According to the Illinois EPA, asbestos that is left undamaged and in good condition is an unlikely health risk. Because of this, being aware of the possibility of asbestos in your vicinity and not disturbing it is important. However, if you suspect asbestos poses a danger in your apartment, here are some initial steps to take:

  • Do not attempt to remove it yourself. Disturbing asbestos in any way can lead to the exposure of toxic fibers in the air that could create an even more dangerous situation.
  • Notify your landlord. Landlords have a responsibility to keep tenants reasonably safe. They must hire a qualified inspector to check for the presence of asbestos.
  • Negotiate temporary living accommodations. If the inspector discovers hazardous asbestos, talk to your landlord about temporary living accommodations during the removal process.
  • Consider taking legal action. If your landlord refuses to take necessary action to check into your claims, talk with an attorney to determine your legal options to press the issue.

While asbestos in your living space may not pose an immediate risk, err on the side of caution in the presence of a potentially harmful material. Know your rights, understand the risks and share your concerns with your landlord as soon as you suspect an issue.

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