IECA members provide environmental remediation and collective bargaining services for the protection of Illinois businesses and consumers from superfluous or unnecessary environmental regulations. Asbestos abatement and removal are some of the most complicated areas when it comes to following state and federal environmental regulations.
Asbestos abatement and removal is very dangerous and should only be handled by licensed professionals. Improper asbestos abatement or removal can not only lead to health problems but may also lead to legal issues if there is collateral damage from your project. Finding the right contractor for your specific needs is crucial when it comes to asbestos abatement and removal.
It’s important to handle asbestos safely to prevent asbestos exposure. When asbestos is mishandled, the fibers may become airborne.
Asbestos fibers can be inhaled and may become lodged in the linings of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Asbestos exposure may cause diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Why Homeowners Should Hire an Asbestos Abatement Company
Asbestos use has declined due to regulations, product bans, and the use of safer alternatives. However, the general public may still be at risk of asbestos exposure from old products and materials. During a renovation or demolition, asbestos-containing materials may be disturbed.
Homeowners and workers should contact an asbestos abatement company if building materials become worn or broken. Asbestos-containing products in good condition and completely intact are generally considered safe. However, homeowners should monitor these materials for wearing or other damage.
It is important for the general public to have an asbestos abatement company assess the situation. If needed, abatement professionals can perform an asbestos encapsulation or remove the asbestos.
How to Identify Asbestos Materials That May Need Removal
Asbestos has been incorporated into thousands of products, such as building materials, automotive parts, and consumer items. Industries frequently used asbestos for its durability and fire-resistant qualities. It was a popular additive to products particularly from the 1930s to the mid-1970s.
In 1984, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a national survey of friable, or easily broken, asbestos in public buildings. At the time, the EPA stated 20% of public and private buildings contained friable asbestos.
Asbestos may still be present in homes and buildings built before 1980. Asbestos fibers are not visible to the human eye and can be difficult to identify. It’s important for people to be aware of common materials that may contain asbestos to prevent exposure.
Building Materials that May Contain Asbestos
- Ceiling Tiles
- Roof Shingles
- Cement Sheeting
- Electrical Breakers
- Textured of “Popcorn” Ceilings
- Vinyl Tiling
Many building materials contained asbestos. It was typically used as a thermal insulator in public buildings, private companies, and schools. In some cases, asbestos coatings were applied to metal beams as a fireproofing material. Asbestos was also mixed into compounds and plasters used on walls and ceilings.
In the EPA’s National Survey of Asbestos-Containing Friable Materials Final Report, the agency noted many of these materials contained high amounts of asbestos:
- Asbestos-containing pipe or boiler insulation had an average asbestos content of 70%.
- Sprayed or trowelled-on friable asbestos material for insulation and fireproofing had an average asbestos content of 14%. The agency reported 192,000 buildings contained these materials.
- Construction workers and homeowners may still be at risk of asbestos exposure while performing renovations and remodels in older structures.
If an individual suspects asbestos is present, they can hire a professional to inspect the area. A professional can take samples of damaged or broken materials and test them.
If asbestos is identified, experienced professionals can recommend the next steps. An asbestos abatement company can encapsulate the asbestos or remove and dispose of the material safely.
How to Handle and Remove Asbestos
Handling any asbestos products and materials can be dangerous. If the material is broken or damaged already, asbestos fibers can easily become airborne.
Research indicates there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. To prevent exposure, asbestos should only be handled and removed by professionals with the appropriate certifications.
Abatement professionals are highly trained to follow federal and state laws. The EPA requires abatement specialists to receive thorough training and accreditation.
Although there are do-it-yourself asbestos abatement guides online, the EPA recommends the general public does not attempt to handle asbestos. Individuals who mishandle asbestos may face dangerous exposure.
Asbestos Testing and Mitigation
Homeowners and building owners should treat any potential asbestos-containing material as dangerous. Individuals should not touch the materials and avoid the area until an inspector can test them.
A licensed professional will perform a visual inspection of the area first for any potential hazards. An inspector will then remove pieces of the questionable material. Lab technicians will analyze the samples to determine asbestos content.
If the samples contain asbestos, the asbestos inspector will suggest the next steps. They may recommend the materials be encapsulated or completely removed from the area.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests the asbestos inspector employed to do the initial inspection is different from the removal contractors. This can help avoid a conflict of interest.
Finding an Asbestos Abatement Contractor
Before moving forward with asbestos abatement, homeowners should research to find the right company. Homeowners should receive multiple bids from abatement companies. The contractors should provide a written work plan. The plan should detail what methods will be used to remove and clean up the area.
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, Chicago, Environmental Protection Agency, National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA