Asbestos

Asbestos has been around for 1000 years and has been used in many building products and consumer products. It is thought to be a perfect product in many cases because of its very high tensile strength and fire retardancy. Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos can cause a disease called asbestosis or, with even minimal exposure, a cancer of the chest lining called mesothelioma.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber. It is found in “rocks” and is mined and processed so the asbestos fibers are extracted from the rocks so the fibers can be incorporated into a wide variety of products. It has been used in construction materials for decades and can become a hazard when the fibers are released into the air and inhaled by workers. When products that contain asbestos become damaged so that asbestos may become released into the air, it is said to be “friable” and this is when it is the most dangerous as it can result in worker exposure. 

Although the use of asbestos has been “banned” for decades, it is still present in materials installed decades ago and, there are still some products sitting in warehouses that are being used today that contain asbestos.

 The EPA notes that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure so the first step to take if you’re concerned about asbestos being present in your work environment, it is best to have the material tested by qualified individuals and analyzed by an accredited laboratory to confirm if it is or is not asbestos. In the meantime, avoid disturbing the suspected source to minimize exposure.

What are the Regulations for Asbestos?

Regulations vary from state to state but the most consistent regulations are from the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. If you are to demolish a structure that contains asbestos or do renovation work to a structure that will impact materials that contain asbestos you must have an asbestos survey conducted to determine the extent of asbestos present and develop a management plan for abating/removing all of the asbestos-containing material before your construction activities impact that material. 

That survey is called a NESHAP survey, which is the National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants. The real purpose of the NESHAP survey is to identify and then remove all of the asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM) that could be impacted so no asbestos is released to the environment. Protecting workers that do the asbestos abatement is covered by worker protection regulations that are an offshoot of the EPA regulations.

Since the 1970s we have done building surveys in more than 10,000 buildings and overseen asbestos abatement in at least 5,000 buildings. If you think you have an asbestos problem, we are happy to meet with you to discuss your options.

How to Address Asbestos

To learn more about our Health & Safety Consulting and how we handle Asbestos Abatement, schedule a free consultation by filling out the form below: