A new study from a research firm says that indoor plumbing is safe, but not in homes with asbestos.
“While the authors’ interpretation is that plumbing does not present a public health risk, this conclusion does not necessarily preclude the development of other alternative methods of removing asbestos,” the report said.
The researchers looked at more than 1,200 households, from across the country, to see whether the presence of asbestos in homes was associated with the presence or absence of indoor plumbing.
“In all, we observed that, in a sample of 1,205 homes with a combined number of two or more pipes in a house, there was no association between the presence and absence of asbestos-containing materials in the homes,” the study found.
“However, in other samples of 1 of 7 households with multiple pipes, we found that some of the indoor plumbing materials were found to be asbestos-producing.”
The study also looked at homes with two or fewer pipes, which have been found to have an increased risk of being linked to indoor asbestos exposure.
It found that, of the 3,621 houses that contained at least one pipe, only 0.1% had indoor plumbing in them.
“It’s the presence that matters here,” said the study’s lead author, James R. Gebbia, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of New Mexico.
“If you can get rid of all of the pipes, then you’re not going to get the asbestos,” he said.
“But the absence of the plumbing means you’re still going to have it.”
The report concluded that indoor asbestos was a public safety risk when it was present in the home.
“There are a lot of things that are going to happen, including the introduction of new indoor plumbing, which is going to introduce a new set of hazards,” said Gebbi, adding that the study did not establish that the presence/absence of asbestos was the cause of indoor asbestos.