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. (Read Part 1 Here)
Asbestos Removal Process
Depending on the condition of the asbestos materials, professionals may recommend encapsulation or abatement. During an encapsulation, specialists will coat the asbestos materials with a sealant. The coating will prevent fibers from becoming airborne.
If the damage is too severe, the materials may need to be completely removed. Steps in the asbestos removal process include:
- Turn off HVAC units and seal vents to prevent asbestos fibers from circulating.
- Seal off the work area with plastic sheeting.
- Use wet cleanup tools and HEPA filter vacuums to clean the workspace.
- Place all materials removed from the site inside clearly marked, leak-tight containers.
Technicians should wear a full-face mask respirator and coveralls when removing asbestos-containing materials. When finished, workers must adhere to decontamination protocols. For instance, workers should contain any soiled clothes. They should change and shower in a clean room away from the work area before changing into street clothes.
After asbestos abatement, professionals can safely dispose of the carcinogenic materials according to state and federal regulations.
After asbestos removal, abatement professionals take the materials to a landfill qualified to receive the waste. Different states and regions have their own protocols for dropping off asbestos waste.
In many cases, an asbestos abatement contractor should wet the asbestos-containing materials and encase them in plastic before transportation to a disposal site. At the designated disposal site, packaged asbestos is buried.
Can Asbestos Be Recycled?
In some cases, asbestos may be recycled. Asbestos is recycled using high heat, which eventually converts the fibers into an inert silicate glass. The high temperature destroys asbestos fibers and makes the asbestos non-hazardous.
In one study, researchers reported submerging metals with asbestos coverings into a sodium hydroxide (NaOH) bath. The asbestos turned into a silica gel that could be turned into glass. The metals were also recycled.
Researchers are still developing the technology and process to recycle asbestos. The ability to recycle asbestos can help decrease the cost of asbestos disposal and prevent the improper disposal of asbestos materials.
Illegal Dumping of Asbestos Materials & Related Abatement Disposal
If individuals attempt to get rid of asbestos without hiring a professional abatement contractor, they may face consequences. Individuals who illegally dump asbestos may be fined and penalized. Instances of asbestos dumping have resulted in large fines and jail time.
Asbestos abatement companies can also face fines if they do not comply with laws and procedures. Improper abatement may cause occupational exposure and put the public at risk of exposure.
It’s important to dispose of asbestos according to regulations to maintain public safety. When asbestos is not taken to the recommended sites, people may be unnecessarily exposed.
Asbestos Handling Rules & Regulations
Federal and state regulations dictate how asbestos found in schools, homes and other buildings should be handled. The laws are meant to protect the general public from asbestos exposure.
Some rules are specific to certain locations and building types. Other rules serve a universal purpose to fully protect people from unnecessary exposure.
Rules and regulations around handling and using asbestos in the United States include:
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
AHERA is an EPA regulation put into place to address asbestos found in schools and other learning facilities across the country.
AHERA states institutions must periodically inspect facilities for the presence of asbestos-containing materials. Educational institutions must have a plan in place to reduce future health hazards associated with exposure to the mineral.
The National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
The EPA created NESHAP to reduce the amount of airborne asbestos during construction work. These rules relate to demolition and renovation projects in buildings. The standards ensure there is as little contamination as possible around the worksite.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations Regarding Asbestos Abatement
OSHA has specific regulations for several industries, including manufacturing, shipyards, and construction. As part of these regulations, OSHA established Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) for employees who may come into contact with asbestos. Employers must ensure workers do not experience exposure above these limits.
There are also rules for marking asbestos materials. OSHA also established medical surveillance requirements for asbestos-exposed workers, including medical monitoring and recordkeeping related to exposure.
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