When you bought your home in a quaint, beautiful Pittsburgh neighborhood, you may have loved showing off the old-fashioned, red brick architecture to friends and family. Pittsburgh’s buildings and culture attract visitors from across the nation, many of whom, like you, decide to move here permanently. The problem with older homes is that many contain asbestos. In fact, concerning homes built before 1985 or so, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s asbestos somewhere.

The fact that your home contains asbestos may not necessarily be an immediate problem. While no amount of exposure to asbestos is safe, the material is not always imminently dangerous either. If left undisturbed, your risk for injury may be quite minimal. If you’re living in an older Pittsburgh home, it’s critical that you understand what to do and not do if you suspect asbestos is nearby. It’s also good to know what type of support is available if you or someone you love contracts an asbestos-related illness.

Leave it alone!

Many people mistakenly believe it’s best to hurry up and remove any and all materials from a home that they suspect contains asbestos. This is quite possibly the worst thing you can do. The moment you tamper with asbestos-laden materials, the greater your risk for injury becomes. You should definitely research how to report and rectify your situation, but you should not try to remove the asbestos yourself.

Keep out of reach of children and others

Until proper inspection and removal, if necessary, occurs, it is best to secure any area in your home where you believe asbestos is present. This is especially true if you have children. Do not let them touch or even play near items that may contain asbestos.

Avoid construction in the area

Asbestos is most dangerous if you tamper with it. Any scraping, pounding, sanding or crumbling can release microscopic fibers into the air, which you, your loved ones or visitors may ingest or inhale, thus placing you or someone you care about at great risk for injury.

If it’s outside, keep it outside

If you’re painting or doing work outside your home and believe you have come across asbestos, be very wary about possibly tracking it through your house. Asbestos fibers can cling to your shoes, clothing or skin. If you re-enter your house after being near asbestos, you may add to your risk for injury by spreading asbestos throughout your home.

A certified asbestos inspector can help you determine your risk level if you suspect you have an asbestos problem at home. However, only certified asbestos contractors may remove asbestos from a particular property in as safe a manner as possible. You may want to request proof that an inspector or contractor is properly certified because federal law doesn’t require accreditation for asbestos workers addressing issues in detached, single family homes.