Does your building have asbestos materials in flooring, insulation, or other building materials that can harm people using the building? If there is asbestos in a building, the owner is obligated to have the building tested to find all the asbestos. Then, an asbestos abatement company must be hired to remove this dangerous material. The same company can test for asbestos and get rid of it in a safe, effective way. A separate, independent inspector may be needed for the final inspection.
Choosing a Company to Test For and Remove Asbestos
When a building owner suspects that their older building has asbestos materials, it is time to choose a reliable, qualified asbestos abatement company to do the testing and abatement process. Services such as airquestinc.com have credentials to check and past customers to get ratings from. Not all asbestos abatement companies are equally qualified, so it is important to vet each prospective company before hiring them to do this important job.
Ask for the company’s licensing, professional organization memberships, insurance proof, certifications, and professional designations. Ask for a list of prior satisfied customers with buildings similar to the one needing asbestos abatement. A building owner wants a company with highly trained and qualified professionals on the staff when doing the abatement work. Make sure the company will properly test for asbestos, follow all the government regulations and protocols, and owns the required asbestos abatement equipment.
Talk to representatives from several companies to choose the one with a good combination of services and affordable pricing. Check each company’s references. Choose the company that will work with each customer to meet all of their unique needs to provide quality service. If possible, choose a company that is located in the same town or city. Get an estimate for the job and a signed contract before work begins. Make sure the company takes steps to protect the people in the building from exposure.
How Does a Building Owner Know If They Should Test for Asbestos in Their Building?
There are many asbestos-containing materials that are not dangerous as long as they are undisturbed or encapsulated. But, these same products can become dried out, brittle, and crumble over time, making them dangerous as asbestos fibers are released into the air. The building that was okay can become unsafe as far as asbestos goes when remodeling projects are undertaken or other events happen. These may include:
- Remodeling projects with demolition. If a remodeling project will involve sawing, sanding, breaking or crushing materials to haul away, they should be tested. This is especially important in older homes and commercial buildings.
- If the building was built before 1980 and has not had asbestos abatement performed.
- If the building contains worn, broken, or crumbled asbestos containing materials.
- After natural or manmade disasters or fire disturbs a building and its structure, exposing these dangerous materials.
Why is This Material Dangerous?
Asbestos has been proven to cause serious health problems when inhaled. These problems include mesothelioma cancer, pleural plaques, asbestosis, and asbestos lung cancer. Approximately 10,000 people die each year due to asbestos-related diseases. The asbestos fibers released into the air are very small at .01 microns thick, so they can get into the lungs and do damage without people being aware until symptoms occur.
Asbestos is a group of six minerals proven to be highly carcinogenic or cancer causing. The minerals include chrysotile, crocidolite, amososite, actinolite, anthophyllite, and tremolite. They fall into the amphibole and serpentine families. Some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others.
4 Stages of Asbestos Clearance
There are four main stages of asbestos clearance or abatement. They need to be done according to government regulations and they need to be done in order. These regulations are designed to make the abatement process safer. The regulations are designed to minimize the accidental release of asbestos fibers into the air during any handling stage. Next, the requirements are that the dangerous material must be properly contained and removed from the structure. The EPA must be notified before abatement of asbestos in the building being demolished or renovated.
The four-stage asbestos clearance requirements are set out by the HSG 284 Asbestos guide. They include:
1. The first stage is a check on the site condition. Buildings built before 1990 must have a hazardous materials survey conducted when renovations, repairs, or demolishing are planned and before work can begin. During this process, a qualified environmental consultant will do a visual inspection and collect samples of suspect materials to be tested in a lab.
2. The second stage is a thorough inspection inside the building and enclosed areas resulting in a report of all-clear to continue with a project or a list of hazardous materials found in the building. This is the stage of the process when the building owner finds and contracts a certified asbestos abatement company to remove and dispose of the listed materials. It is advised that the building owner get several quotes for their abatement project.
3. The third stage is where the asbestos abatement company that has been hired does the actual removal and cleanup of the site. This must include air monitoring. The actual work of abatement involves designing an abatement plan for removal of hazardous materials that meets all government regulations. There should be a contract to sign that lists the procedures for removal, transport, and disposal.
Work begins with the demarcation of the dangerous areas and sealing them off from human traffic and from the heating and air conditioning systems. No fibers should be able to escape the work area. The asbestos removal workers should be suited up in hazmat gear for their protection while they work.
Now, the workers carefully remove the dangerous materials without breaking them into small pieces and put them in proper disposal containers. The materials should be wet down to eliminate small fibers spreading or becoming airborne. During this process, the area must be kept clean and free of debris. The equipment and clothing workers wear must also be sealed in proper plastic bags.
Finally, the area is cleaned with wet mops and rags and HEPA vacuums. Now, the area is ready for the final step.
4. The fourth stage is a final assessment and the enclosure area dismantling. This is the stage that finishes with permission to re-occupy the area. There will be an additional inspection and a report and certificate freeing the area for habitation.
These steps and procedures are important in making all buildings safe for inhabitants and workers. Having buildings that are certified asbestos-free contributes to safer workplaces and homes.