Asbestos Abatement: What You Need to Know
Asbestos is an infamously dangerous set of six minerals, carrying with it a reputation of death, disease, and litigation. But before we classified asbestos as a potentially lethal human carcinogen, it was considered an incredibly useful substance; it provided protection against chemical and electrical damage, it was resistant to heat, it absorbed sound, it was cheap, and it made for convenient building insulation. Consequently, asbestos has been used for thousands of years and in millions of buildings and commercial products across the planet.
Things took a turn in the early 1900s, when doctors began to notice a link forming between asbestos exposure and adverse health effects (illnesses of the lungs, as well as premature deaths). The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) allowed the usage of asbestos in gas fireplaces until the 1970s, and the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t ban asbestos altogether until 1989.
Predictably, the problems we unwittingly created for ourselves, by using asbestos in a countless number of building projects and materials, are tough to repair. A significant number of homes and buildings renovated or built between the 1950s and 1980s are likely to contain this harmful mineral. Protecting the inhabitants of such potentially harmful buildings is done through a process known as abatement.
The abatement process begins with an evaluation, or an inspection. Unfortunately, unlike mold, asbestos isn’t something you can spot or smell. If you come across materials in your home or place of business that look suspicious to you, it’s wise not to handle them. Asbestos is far more dangerous when it has been disturbed. Remediation professionals, like Environmental Remediation Experts, will take samples.
If the sampling yields a confirmation, don’t panic. In some cases, the mere presence of asbestos does not call for remediation. For example, according to the EPA, “Asbestos-containing material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) will not release asbestos fibers.” Choosing a trusted expert to help you make this determination will put you at ease.
Asbestos Abatement Methods
If your situation does warrant remediation, asbestos abatement generally comes in four forms: encapsulation, repair, enclosure, and removal. Contrary to popular opinion, not all asbestos must be removed outright.
- The encapsulation process involves coating all asbestos-containing materials with an encapsulate, which seals the materials and prevents exposure;
- Asbestos repair is the “patching up” of newly problematic or damaged – but previously encapsulated – areas of asbestos-containing material;
- The enclosure process requires an airtight structure to be built around the asbestos-containing material, which also acts as a preventative measure but must be regularly maintained; and
- Removal, the most complex and expensive option, is the total elimination of asbestos and asbestos-containing material from a property.
Each incidence of asbestos is unique. If you have concerns relating to asbestos abatement, or other environmental remediation issues, give us a call at (888) 995-2143, or click here to email us. We will happily walk you through what you can expect, as well as what you need to know.
Photo Credits: Stanley English Manor