Is a 'Monster' in Your home?

Professional removal of in-home asbestos is a critical health decision for homeowners
Is a Monster in Your home
Asbestos abatement crew in action.
Is a Monster in Your home
Original Eichler flooring—with asbestos lurking beneath.
Is a Monster in Your home
Eichler flooring installers at work in the 1950s, unaware of future asbestos issues.

It's an old story: Science leads to a seemingly great invention, which ultimately turns around and bites us in the butt.

Leaded gas. Pesticides like DDT. The Frankenstein monster.

And there is another ill-fated invention that has cost innumerable lives over the years, but still lurks unseen inside many homes—asbestos.

Asbestos itself is not an actual invention, but rather a set of naturally occurring, fibrous minerals that man has fashioned into dozens of uses. It has been appreciated for thousands of years for its inflammability, insulation capacity, and electrical resistance.

"It was the wonder of its time. They were putting it everywhere," observed Craig Smollen, a general contractor who specializes in Eichlers and has seen his share of asbestos in the home.

Although it may have been suspected as far back as ancient Rome, the danger of asbestos was first documented in the 1920s, long before Joe Eichler ever turned a shovel of dirt. As with so many other products, industrialists disputed its health effects and still do to this day. Its uses began to be restricted in the late 20th century, and several countries eventually banned it entirely, including Japan, Turkey, and New Zealand.

Not so in the U.S., however, where it is still used in many products—clothing, brake pads, cement pipes, and others—but its removal is tightly regulated. Proof that asbestos went all ‘Frankenstein' on mankind can be found in the 10,000 people it is suspected of helping kill each year in the U.S. through exposure to asbestos mining, manufacturing, and products. Then there's the fact that since the first asbestos lawsuit was filed in 1929, it has become the biggest mass tort in history, costing upwards of $200 billion.