In 1977, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of asbestos in many materials, including drywall taping compounds. Building material suppliers were still allowed to continue selling their stockpiles until they were exhausted. Due to this, asbestos can still be found in homes and buildings built after 1977.
Undisturbed asbestos-containing materials pose little risk to human health. Airborne asbestos, however, can lead to a variety of life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
It is standard practice for restoration contractors who work in older homes to have materials suspected of containing asbestos tested, especially interior finishes such as plaster and drywall taping compound.
Testing for Asbestos After Abatement
If an inspectors test sample of building materials indicates asbestos is present, a certified asbestos abatement contractor will need to perform abatement work before any renovation services begin.
Once the asbestos is removed, a third-party testing company needs to perform post-abatement air sampling to be sure the asbestos abatement work was done properly (a Clearance Test). If the clearance test fails, the abatement contractor must decontaminate the areas again and call for another clearance test. Once the clearance test passes, the abatement contractor will dismantle their HEPA ventilated containment, and remove their equipment so repairs can begin.
Safety precautions need to be taken when repairing drywall or plaster that contains asbestos. The process of patching drywall or plaster requires that the joints, corners, edges, and seams be sanded to blend the texture so you can’t see where a patch or repairs took place. This can cause widespread contamination as the process to repair these materials requires disturbing surrounding areas where old ACM may be disturbed.
When to Perform Post-Abatement Tests
As a general rule, if you perform repairs in a building where sections of ACM have been removed, you should always test after the removal is finished. Air sampling, as well as asbestos abatement, requires licensing of individuals and companies. Further information can be obtained on licensed professionals and firms at IDPH.gov.
Repairing surfaces with ACM requires caution and strict safety procedures. Working on any surface with ACMs requires suitable options to eliminate any risk of disturbing them and causing contamination. To avoid potential liability, obtaining a clearance test after repairs are done can provide you and the building occupants with proof that you did your work properly.
Speaking to an asbestos professional is the best way to determine your needs for post-removal or abatement procedures. Having a post-abatement asbestos evaluation in place before the initial project begins will help you be prepared for anything that happens along the way.
Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Resources
For more information on finding a local contractor to assist with asbestos information, remediation, or removal check the resources below:
- Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Members
- IECA Common Questions & Answers
- Illinois Environmental Organizations & Related Agencies
Randr Mag Online – Dangers of Asbestos Contamination Post-Abatement