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Indoor Health Hazards: Case Study on Asbestos Risks

July 26, 2017
Hazard Data, Home Building
By: Vivian Nguyen

This post is about the application of indoor health hazard data to a series of case studies on four different indoor health risks. Today, we feature an indoor health hazard case study on asbestos risks.

Make sure to read the entire series of case studies:

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Indoor Health Hazard Case Study on Asbestos Risks

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral and there are various types, each with unique chemical properties:

  • chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • amosite (brown asbestos)
  • crocidolite (blue asbestos)
  • anthophyllite
  • tremolite
  • actinolite

Depending on the length of exposure, and if inhalation happens through either direct or indirect exposure, it may lead to serious health issues including:

  • lung cancer
  • mesothelioma (cancer of the chest, heart, and or abdomen)
  • asbestosis

The material has been used in an array of products from shipbuilding to car parts to residential building materials, such as:

  • acoustic ceilings
  • insulation
  • vinyl floor tiles
  • roofing
  • a variety of fire-resistant surfaces

Asbestos Health Risks to Residential Occupants

The material becomes a health risk to residential occupants when disturbed mostly by demolition and or remolding. The use of asbestos is very strict and multiple regulatory bans have been enacted over the years. However, as it pertains to residential structures, the EPA banned asbestos-containing insulation and fireproofing materials in 1973 and ceiling treatment asbestos-containing materials were banned by 1978. From 1999 to 2010, asbestos was responsible for over 35,000 deaths and its negative effects are expected to continue for years to come.

Multi-family built before 1978 indicating potential asbestos hazard
Multi-family built before 1978 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Spatial Query Results

A spatial query for multi-family dwellings built before 1978 within the City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota was completed using LandVision™, a powerful map-based real estate research, analysis, and collaboration tool. The query yielded 1,304 multi-family dwellings that met these criteria.

Author Bio

Customer success, map maker, GIS, location technology


Jose A. Robles is Senior Customer Success Analyst at Digital Map Products. First and foremost, he is a customer advocate keen on finding holistic and scalable solutions. A curious and habitual observer, his fields of study include cultural anthropology, geography, disease ecology, and the application of geospatial technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He is passionate about environmental health topics and intrigued by urban landscapes. Contact Jose at or via LinkedIn.

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