What is Asbestos?
Most Americans mistakenly believe asbestos was banned long ago. In fact, it is still legal, and still kills. Its microscopic fibers cause painful and incurable diseases. Despite being outlawed in nearly every other industrialized country, asbestos remains a legal component of more than three thousand common products in the United States.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that has been used extensively because of its heat strength, tensile strength, and insulating properties.
Asbestos poses health risks when fibers are in the air that people breathe.
Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, causing scarring that can lead to severely impaired lung function (asbestosis) and cancers of the lungs or lung cavity, such as mesothelioma.
Up to 15,000 asbestos-related deaths occur in the United States each year. Despite the wealth of information documenting the negative health impact of asbestos, it is still not banned in the United States. In fact, 30 million pounds of asbestos are used each year. Asbestos is a silent killer because exposed people do not get sick immediately but up to 20 years later.
Asbestos Survey and Testing
Homeowners should not begin renovations in their home until it is determined safe. Before beginning any demolition, renovation, or any other disruption of materials in a building that may contain asbestos, it is essential that you get an asbestos survey.
According to Michael Bowker, author of the book “Fatal Deception,” you should call a professional and avoid trying to take your own samples:
“Unless you are trained and have proper protective gear, you might expose yourself and perhaps your family by attempting to take your own samples.”
An asbestos survey (also referred to as an asbestos location survey, an asbestos assessment survey, and/or asbestos testing and inspection) determines whether the materials present in the building contain asbestos. The other purpose of an asbestos survey is to delineate the location and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACM).
The survey begins with a walk-through inspection and sampling of suspect building materials for both friable and non-friable asbestos. Friable ACM include those that can be crumbled and pulverized by hand pressure. Friable ACM is most often found in buildings that include: mechanical systems’ thermal insulation, fireproofing, soundproofing and other acoustic applications. Non-friable ACM are those that require tools to be broken and pulverized. Non-friable ACM includes: drywall joint compounds, plasters, vinyl asbestos flooring materials, acoustic tiles, gaskets, putties, and caulks.
Once the survey is complete, the consultant will provide a report that will assess the level of asbestos hazard present so that an abatement plan can be determined.
Asbestos Removal and Abatement
If the survey and testing determine that you have asbestos-containing materials that pose a hazard, then the asbestos must be properly removed.
The top priority of an abatement professional is to prevent asbestos fibers from traveling freely in the air. The next step is to set up proper containment so fibers that do become airborne are not allowed to travel outside of the contained area. Once the containment is set up with negative air pressure, the process of removal can begin. All contaminated materials must be disposed according to industry and geological standards and regulations.
Once all asbestos materials are removed, the air quality should be tested by a third party environmental consultant before any reconstruction begins.
If you are planning to renovate or experience an emergency where building materials are broken or disturbed, call National Restoration so that our professionals can assess the asbestos risk and remove it, ensuring the safety of your family or employees.