Get the Facts About Asbestos
Below are some common questions regarding asbestos and the testing and removal process. If you have questions about asbestos, asbestos-containing materials, health effects related to exposure, or any other related questions we may not have covered in these FAQs, please feel free to reach out to us! We are here to help.
Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous materials composed of thin, needle-like fibers. It is a naturally occurring material that resists exposure to fire, sound, water, and chemicals. It is composed of millions of fibers, which bind together to create a light yet virtually indestructible material. Although asbestos strengthens and fireproofs materials, it is banned in many countries. Asbestos is not banned in the U.S.
Health risks are presented when asbestos fibers become airborne, increasing the chance of inhalation. Upon inhalation, asbestos fibers build up in the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. Asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer are three of the most common and most serious health issues associated with asbestos exposure.
In general, the health risks from short-term asbestos exposure is low. Undisturbed asbestos fibers are unlikely to pose health risks to occupants of the building. As long as it is in good condition, asbestos fibers should not become airborne, therefore decreasing the risk of inhalation.
ACM stands for asbestos-containing material. ACM is defined as any material containing more than 1% asbestos. There are six types of asbestos, however, Chrysotile is the most commonly encountered form and accounts for 95% of all asbestos in use. Chrysotile is used in roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors of homes and businesses.
Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was a common component used in building material, automotive parts, and textiles because of its fire-resistant, durable, and flexible nature. It is no longer mined or processed in the United States, but is still used in vinyl floor tiles, brake pads, and cement pipes.
There are also many materials that are still legally used in construction, renovation, and demolition processes. Piping, spray-applied and blown-in insulation, mastic, roofing material, caulking, and exterior building materials, cement siding, HVAC duct insulation, roofing shingles, spackling compounds, and fireproofing materials, to name a few.
No. The U.S. is one of the few major industrialized nations without an asbestos ban in place, though it is highly regulated. The EPA banned most asbestos-containing products in the U.S. in 1989. However, the rule was vacated in 1991 which overturned bans on the manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution in commerce. Only the bans on corrugated paper, roll board, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt remained under the 1989 rule. While the production and use of asbestos has significantly declined, most asbestos-containing products can still be legally manufactured, imported, processed, and distributed in the U.S.
Sampling and analysis in an accredited laboratory is the only way to determine the presence of asbestos. Most states allow homeowners to collect samples and remove asbestos from their residence without any special licensing or training, though it may not be a wise decision as it is dangerous to your health. However, sampling and removal of asbestos from a commercial structure must be done by a licensed professional.
Hiring an asbestos abatement contractor, and not doing it yourself, is the wisest and safest decision when it comes to removing asbestos from any residential, commercial or public building. Asbestos abatement companies are held to a high regulatory standard. They will properly test for the toxic material, follow strict regulations, and processes, and carry the right abatement removal equipment to keep them, others, and you safe from exposure.
Yes, a full good faith asbestos survey is required per most building demolition permits, as well as a lead survey. Information gathered during the thorough inspection allows the owner or operator to determine which requirements of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for asbestos will apply to the demolition or renovation project. The asbestos NESHAP prohibits the reinstallation or installation of any insulating materials that contain commercial asbestos if the materials are either molded and friable or wet-applied and friable after drying. It is not recommended that other asbestos containing materials be reused.
The first step in the abatement process is to set up a regulated work area. Constructing a containment area (in some cases a decontamination unit is built onto the containment where workers change into disposable suits and respirators upon entering, and shower out before exiting the work area), sealing air ducts, disabling HVAC systems, and setting up negative pressure equipment are a few of the steps abatement technicians take to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers through the building during the removal and cleaning process.
After a regulated and enclosed work area is established around the surfaces or areas being abated, technicians wearing abatement suits and using personal air monitoring equipment will wet the material, which helps reduce the airborne fiber count, and utilize hand tools to remove asbestos-containing material. The asbestos material is then placed into asbestos disposal waste bags, sealed, taken out through a waste decontamination unit, and stored in a specially labelled trailer or dumpster designed with protective poly lining then later transported to a secure landfill that accepts asbestos waste.
After all asbestos materials are removed from the building, all abated surfaced and areas are wet wiped and vacuumed with a special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum. HEPA cleaning ensures that any lingering asbestos particles in the air are removed. After multiple HEPA cleanings, air and surface samples will be taken and tested to verify the successful removal of asbestos and a clearance report is provided.
After removal, the sealed bags are transported by a licensed asbestos hauler, to an EPA approved landfill, where it is completely buried to reduce the likelihood of it becoming exposed to air. Disposal manifests are required at the end of each project to ensure the waste arrived at the landfill as required. Anyone hauling asbestos in most states are required to be licensed as an abatement contractor and carry environmental impairment insurance.
Since the amount of asbestos removal differs from job to job, removal costs also vary. A standard square footage calculation is difficult to provide because it’s based on many factors such as location of the asbestos, the type of asbestos removal needed, the amount that needs to be removed, the layout of the area, etc. We are most concerned with the safety of the client and our workers, so making sure all jobs are completed per regulations is our number one goal. Give us a call. We'll get you in touch with one of our estimators who will provide you with an accurate estimate based on your project specifications.
Living in a home with intact asbestos doesn't necessarily pose a health risk. But when these materials in your home deteriorate over time, or become disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibers can be released into the air. It's a material with lots of staying power; fibers can stay around your house for years.
If you find something in your home that you suspect is asbestos, the best option is to leave it alone, even if the material is in good condition. If the materials appear damaged or future activities could disturb it, contact a trained and accredited asbestos removal contractor. The best way to avoid asbestos exposure is to be knowledgeable about the asbestos materials in your home, including their locations and current condition.
Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, siding, insulation (around boilers, ducts, pipes, sheeting, fireplaces), pipe cement, and joint compound used on seams between pieces of sheetrock. Some newer houses may also contain asbestos.
Yes. Asbestos abatement contractors must follow strict regulations when performing asbestos abatement to ensure that asbestos does not move into uninvolved areas. (See How is Asbestos Removed). Given these precautions, people outside of the abatement area are not at risk for exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos abatement regulations require a third-party laboratory to conduct air clearance testing after the area has been cleaned up and before the area may be re-occupied. Testing is conducted onsite and test reports are available to the abatement contractor.
Asbestos abatement contractors wear Tyvek suits, hoods, shoe covers and respirators. Between the abatement area and the uninvolved area, there is a clean-up area where the contractors remove their protective clothing before entering the clean zone. Depending on the scope of the job, the clean-up area may also contain a shower, as well. In all cases, the air monitoring outside the abatement area confirms that there is no contamination in the uninvolved area.
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