Asbestos is deadly, and may be lurking in your home, school, or office. The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible. Once inhaled, they lodge in the lungs forever. Find out what you need to know about asbestos detection, monitoring, and removal to protect your family, employees, and yourself.
- know what asbestos is and where it is found
- understand how asbestos can affect your health
- have your home tested for asbestos before renovation or demolition
- take proper precautions when renovating or removing asbestos
- know your asbestos liability exposure
- disturb asbestos without proper safety precautions
- do any asbestos removal without having an asbestos abatement plan
- remove asbestos without following proper federal, state and local rules
- ignore asbestos
- forget to have the property inspected after renovations
Asbestos is a strong mineral fiber that until 1979 was added to insulation and thousands of other products like floor and ceiling tiles, adhesives, siding, joint and patching compounds, roofing materials, shingles, and adhesives because of its resistance to fire and strength. However, asbestos is a carcinogen that can cause cancer and serious respiratory ailments. Most asbestos fibers are too small to be visible, and once inhaled, they lodge in the lungs forever. Over time, materials containing asbestos either degrade or are released into the air when disturbed.
Asbestos causes lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious respiratory ailments. Most asbestos-related diseases don’t present until years after exposure – with the majority occurring at least 30 years after initial exposure. Since 1979, at least 44,000 people have died from asbestos-related diseases, according to the Environmental Working Group. And the numbers of asbestos-related deaths is still on the rise. At least 100,000 more will die over the next decade — a rate approaching 30 deaths a day.
If you suspect there might be asbestos in your home, or if you know that your home was constructed before 1980, get it tested, but only by trained professionals, including but not limited to certified microbial inspectors and asbestos inspectors. They will examine materials without releasing fibers into the air.
There are strict state and federal laws about asbestos removal and handling. If asbestos in your home or place of business has been confirmed, have the asbestos removal done by certified professionals who are specially trained in handling toxic materials. Asbestos inspectors, project designers and management planners are licensed by the Department of Public Health and certified under the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act. They can expertly locate any asbestos in your home and monitor asbestos removal. Once the material is removed, they can verify that your home or business is no longer threatened.
Billions of dollars have been and continue to be awarded to asbestos victims and their families. Don’t make the mistake of believing that deliberately remaining unaware of asbestos issues will protect you from liability. Landlords aren’t the only ones considered liable. Employers, real estate agents, leasing agents, and contractors can also be held responsible, so you should actively be concerned with asbestos in your home and know the liability you may face if you don’t take steps to eliminate it. Be sure to know the age and condition of the asbestos in your home and/or business as well.
A demolition could expose an asbestos problem you weren’t aware of. But whatever you do, don’t touch it. Consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne. Your best bet is to have a professional deal with the problem. Check with your state agency to see an up-to-date listing of accredited professionals in your area.
Especially if you are a building owner, when it comes to asbestos abatement, it’s essential to document your compliance, prioritize areas of concern, and minimize the risks and liabilities for you and your residents. An asbestos management plan for building owners, managers, workers, and other key building staff provides basic information about how to develop and carry out high quality operations and maintenance programs for managing asbestos in place. Asbestos management plans are required by many federal and state agencies, lending institutions, and insurance companies.
Asbestos removal regulations are very strict and can carry stiff penalties. An asbestos abatement plan and monitoring will clearly identify the locations, quantities, and conditions of asbestos-containing materials to be removed by a licensed and insured abatement contractor, how the materials will be transported, and where they will be disposed of. An independent testing company can make sure the process meets all federal, state and local ordinances, regulations and rules pertaining to asbestos including storage, transport and disposal.
Asbestos can be very dangerous, but is easily managed, and does not always need to be removed. It is generally not harmful until it is disturbed and fibers are released into the air. Have a professional testing company come in to assess your situation. It may be that the materials containing asbestos in your home are in good shape and do not need to be removed, just encapsulated. The professionals can provide an asbestos remediation plan for you so that you and your family are safe.
Even if you called in a professional before renovation, you should also have your home or commercial property tested after renovation to ensure the work was completed and cleaned up properly. To make sure your asbestos issue has been resolved, have your independent inspector conduct an asbestos clearance test to see if all asbestos fibers have been cleaned up per EPA standards. Final asbestos clearance testing includes visual inspections of the work area to assure no visible debris remains and final air samples to ensure results are below the EPA and State re-occupancy clearance criteria. All inspections and testing should be performed by a licensed inspector. This is critically important for your health and the health your family, employees, or tenants.
Asbestos is a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious respiratory ailments. The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to be visible. Once inhaled, they lodge in the lungs forever. Asbestos is very common – thousands of building materials were manufactured with asbestos including insulation, pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, adhesives, roof shingles, siding, textured ceilings and joint compounds. Over time, these materials degrade or are disturbed and their asbestos fibers are released.