Asbestos is a word most of us have heard. Most of us, however, don’t understand the real danger that asbestos poses to the health of our families. If you are moving into an older home (built pre-1980), or older neighborhood and have concerns about any kind of structural integrity, asbestos should be at the top of your checklist.

A Brief History of Asbestos

You probably don’t think about asbestos exposure very often. The EPA banned its use in 1989, and after all the news articles about how asbestos causes cancer and mesothelioma, who would want to use it at all? But the ban was removed a few years later, and while contractors virtually never use asbestos in residential applications anymore, it remains in millions of homes, especially those built before the 1970s.

Although asbestos in the home usually doesn’t pose a day-to-day danger, homeowners need to know the dangers involved in disturbing it, the consequences of asbestos exposure and the proper asbestos removal methods.

Due to its heat resistance and strength, asbestos was used in a wide variety of construction purposes such as flooring, drywall and insulation. Basement pipe insulation and tape on old duct work are among the most common places you’ll find dangerous asbestos, because it breaks up over time and all of it is several decades old.

You can’t see or smell asbestos. The only way to be sure is to hire an environmental consulting firm or asbestos building inspector for asbestos testing. They’ll take fingernail-sized samples and test them in a laboratory. This work will cost between $100 and $700, depending on how extensive the testing is.

When to Hire an Asbestos Abatement Contractor

Some asbestos materials, such as flooring, are best left undisturbed. If you plan on doing work that involves breaking up, removing or drilling through those materials, though, call an asbestos professional. Asbestos removal is not federally regulated, but most states require licensing.

Deteriorating materials such as tape and pipe insulation should be replaced. A qualified professional will use specialized techniques to seal off the area and prevent any amount of asbestos from escaping. A typical project takes two people eight hours to complete.

Popcorn ceiling installed prior to 1990 is likely to have asbestos in it. Asbestos popcorn ceiling removal costs between $3 and $10 per square foot — two to three times as much as standard popcorn ceiling removal.

Most asbestos removal jobs will cost between $1,000 and $3,000. More extensive jobs, such as a whole-house remediation, will be much more expensive, averaging between $15,000 and $30,000.

Preparing the area and sealing it off from the outside makes up two-thirds of asbestos abatement cost. Expect to pay between $75 and $200 per hour for labor.

Hiring asbestos removal contractors should be done carefully. Asbestos licensing and training regulations vary by state and locality. Learn your local laws and verify that they have the appropriate licenses and, if necessary, the permits required for the job

How to Find an Asbestos Abatement Contractor Near You

Asbestos removal plans should meet all state and federal regulations to ensure the job is being done correctly. Contractors should also be able to provide references from other customers, as well as proof of workers’ certifications.

Before any renovation or demolition on an older building, owners should consider contacting an asbestos professional for testing. Safe handling and removal of asbestos can prevent exposure and ensure proper disposal.

For more information on finding a local contractor, check the resources below:

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our associates to find an answer to your situation. With more than 40 Illinois-licensed companies represented by IECA members, we believe that collective action through association is the most effective way to deal with the changing demands of doing business.

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