When we bought our house, we knew we wanted to make it as healthy as possible, both for us and for the environment. The first step we took towards that goal, was to hire an environmental survey firm to establish potential health hazards (lead, asbestos) in our home. This is significantly important to people such as us, who were about to set off on a major home remodel.
Our results were invaluable and helped us navigate the next steps of our remodel. In rooms where paint contained any levels of lead, extra precautions were taken to not disturb the paint. For example, we plastered and painted over all of the glue marks from the paneling rather than scrape it off the painted walls, which would have created a lot of harmful dust.
We were fortunate in that the only asbestos found in our home was in the skim coat of our plaster ceiling in the living room and some linoleum squares found in a few of the kitchen cabinets. The skim coat was a practice used to soften the rougher surface of plaster and was often found in the most formal of the homes rooms. Due to the size of the living room, we chose to hire a separate firm to do an asbestos abatement. This firm was certified in asbestos removal AND proper disposal, which is also an extremely important component to this process.
The cost of the environmental survey was $840. The cost of the asbestos abatement (which included removing the living room ceiling plaster down to the lathe) was $1,000. Of course, two thousand dollars can buy a lot of things, but for the peace of mind of living in a healthy home, it was priceless.