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Asbestos had been widely used in construction for thousands of years. The mineral’s ability to effectively resist fire, as well as its overall durability, made it especially useful within many construction materials from tiles to roofing shingles. Homes and buildings built before 1990 are more likely to contain asbestos.
When owners of these older homes and buildings choose to renovate or demolish the structure, the risk of disturbing any asbestos within becomes great. When disturbed, the asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled, which poses many serious health threats including mesothelioma. If asbestos is known or suspected to be in a building, it’s important to find the proper professionals to handle it.
Assessing the Need for Asbestos Abatement
If you live in an older home, there is a higher potential for asbestos to be present. Since so many products used asbestos, it could essentially be found anywhere in the house. It’s important to remember if undisturbed and undamaged, the asbestos doesn’t really pose a threat and can be left untouched. But remain vigilant of any changes over time, like crumbling walls or any damage to materials that may contain asbestos. Even if you just suspect the area to contain asbestos, it’s best to proceed with extra caution to avoid the risk of exposure. Limit access to the damaged area and leave it be until it can be inspected by a professional.
If you’re considering renovating your home and think asbestos may be present, take precautionary measures. Don’t ever attempt to remove or manipulate asbestos products on your own. A certified inspector can test your home for asbestos before beginning such projects. They will be able to assess any areas of damage, as well as recommend any safety measures.
If removal is required, an asbestos contractor can determine the best course of action – whether the asbestos can be covered or sealed, or needs to be removed entirely. Not only do these professionals know how to properly remove the asbestos, but they can also dispose of this hazard safely.
Choosing a Qualified Asbestos Abatement Contractor
It is essential to hire a certified asbestos professional to ensure this dangerous toxin is handled and disposed of properly. The EPA recommends avoiding a conflict of interest by hiring an inspector not affiliated with the firm that will handle the actual repair or removal of the toxin. All asbestos professionals should document their completion of federal or state-approved training; make sure each person working can prove their accreditation. Federal, state, and local authorities have specific requirements in place, so it’s important to make sure the professionals fully comply with these regulations. You should check on their past performance with your local air quality board and even the Better Business Bureau. Make sure the firm hasn’t had any safety violations, and find out if legal actions were ever filed against them.
When it comes to the inspection, make sure they will complete both a visual assessment and collect samples for analysis. They should provide you with an evaluation of any asbestos present, including the location and extent, and provide any necessary next steps. They can also return after asbestos removal, if needed, to ensure the area was cleaned properly.
If working with an asbestos contractor to remove asbestos, make sure you receive a complete contract that specifies their work plan, handling of clean up, and all the federal, state, and local regulations that must be followed. During the process, make sure they properly mark the area as a hazard and keep the work site visually free of debris; their equipment, clothing, and materials should all be contained. The area should be thoroughly cleaned with wet mops and rags and HEPA vacuums when finished to ensure no lingering asbestos fibers can transfer to other areas of the house. Once the job is completed, you should also receive a written statement that the contract was met.
There are strict laws in place for asbestos abatement for a reason. Asbestos is a dangerous hazard that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Exposure to disturbed asbestos can cause mesothelioma and various other serious health risks. Stay vigilant in your home for any potential risk, and take the time to find a trusted professional if you ever suspect damaged asbestos in your home.