Hiring an asbestos abatement company, and not doing it yourself, is the wisest and safest decision when it comes to removing asbestos from any residential, commercial or public building. Asbestos abatement companies will properly test for the toxic mineral, follow strict regulations and processes, and carry the right abatement removal equipment to keep them, others and you safe from exposure.
Understanding the Dangers of Asbestos
Although asbestos isn’t banned in the U.S., its use is limited. However, asbestos-containing materials (ACM) still pose a danger to the public because they were common building products in homes, schools and other structures built before the 1980s.
Asbestos abatement involves the identification, removal, repair and encapsulation of materials or products in a structure to eliminate the threat of exposure to toxic asbestos fibers. It’s best handled by a professional asbestos abatement company.
Reasons to Test a Structure for Asbestos
Although asbestos-containing products are generally safe when left undisturbed, they become brittle over time and can crumble. But the popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects has heightened possible asbestos exposure.
- Any DIY remodeling projects
- Work on a structure built before 1980
- A natural or manmade disaster disturbed building structure
- Asbestos-Containing Materials Found during a project
Why Asbestos Abatement is Important
- If damaged asbestos-containing materials are not properly removed by an asbestos abatement company, they can endanger your life and the lives of others who come into contact with asbestos dust, fibers or raw asbestos materials.
- Inhaling or ingesting asbestos can lead to serious health issues such as mesothelioma-related cancers, asbestosis, pleural plaques and asbestos lung cancer.
- About 3,000 people are diagnosed annually with mesothelioma in the U.S. An estimated 10,000 people die annually from some type of asbestos-related disease.
- Microscopic asbestos fibers are .01 microns thick (18,000 times thinner than a human hair).
What to do If You Suspect Asbestos Contamination
The most important first step is to not touch the suspicious materials. Let a professional asbestos abatement company handle the job. Limit activities in the area, keep children out of the area, and quickly call a professional to inspect.
DO NOT attempt to start cleaning affected areas. Even sweeping or vacuuming can send dangerous particles into the air. Make sure to leave any materials containing asbestos where they are until you have professional help.
Make sure to find the correct asbestos removal professionals for your situation. Some professionals specialize only in asbestos abatement, while others offer environmental services, demolition services and general contracting services that may include abatement.
Within the U.S., asbestos abatement regulations vary from state to state and city to city, some extend beyond the federal laws that require Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licensing.
Homeowners are not legally required to use a licensed asbestos abatement company, but it is strongly recommended.
Before hiring an asbestos abatement company, verify its qualifications. Find the one that best suits your needs.
Type of Asbestos Abatement
There are 3 classes of asbestos work:
- Class I Asbestos Work. Activities involving the removal of asbestos used to prevent heat loss or gain, surfacing asbestos-containing materials and those suspected of containing asbestos.
- Class II Asbestos Work. Removal of nonthermal asbestos-containing materials such as wallboards, floor tiles and sheeting, roofing and siding shingles and construction mastics.
- Class III Asbestos Work. Repair and maintenance operations of any asbestos-containing materials that will likely be disturbed. This is the type most likely used for removing asbestos.
Licensed workers and contractors are certified to perform the following services in each class:
- Pre-Asbestos Abatement Activities
- Work Area Preparation
- Establishing Decontamination Units
- Using Personal Protection (Respirator and Protective Clothing)
- Worker Decontamination Procedures
- Safety Considerations in Abatement Area
- Proper Handling & Disposal of Asbestos Waste
Where to Start Your Asbestos Abatement Plan
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:
- Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Members
- IECA Common Questions & Answers
- Illinois Environmental Organizations & Related Agencies
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.Tags: Abatement, Asbestos, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, National Environmental Policy Act, Recommendations