August 9, 2017
Asbestos was a popular building material used throughout much of the 20th century and as a result, many homes today built before 1980 may contain the carcinogen. Household building materials such as roofing, siding, insulation, and flooring commonly contained asbestos and continues to pose a threat to families even though it has ceased being used in homes. Asbestos found in the home today should be removed if possible, but since it hasn’t been used in such mass quantities for decades, one might find it difficult in identifying the carcinogen.
What do you do if you find asbestos in your house?
A general rule of thumb is if the asbestos is not disturbed, then it does not pose a threat to your health and it is best to just leave it alone. It will not release fibers if it is in good condition and by disturbing it, you are putting yourself at an unnecessary risk or hazard. On the other hand, damaged asbestos-containing materials do pose a threat, as sawing, scraping, or sanding creates a dust that is likely to release the carcinogenic fibers. Asbestos is heavily regulated by the U.S. government and different agencies have their own rules for asbestos control to maintain exposure levels in the workplace and the environment. If you find asbestos in your home or property, it’s important to take every precaution to ensure you are handling asbestos in your home safely and responsibly.
There are two actions one can take if asbestos-containing material is found to be more than slightly damaged or disturbed: encapsulation/enclosure or removal. Both of these actions may depend on where the asbestos is located and should be done by an asbestos professional. Disturbed asbestos that is located on pipes, furnaces, or within boiler insulation is often treated by sealing, or encapsulating the material. Asbestos fibers are bound together with a sealant that coats the fibers so it is not able to be released. Covering or enclosing exposed asbestos fibers with a protective wrap can also prevent the fibers from being released into the air.
Removal of asbestos fibers is typically called for if the asbestos-containing material is extremely damaged and cannot be repaired, enclosed, or encapsulated. In these situations, removal must be done by an asbestos contractor – someone who is professionally trained in asbestos removal.
How Do I Know If Asbestos Was Properly Removed?
Asbestos contractors should be able to provide a list of procedures followed, along with a work and clean-up plan in a contract that is compliant with federal, state, and local laws. Asbestos removal is complex work, and potentially very dangerous. Asbestos contractors must maintain a high level of workmanship and follow common procedures such as:
- Properly disposing asbestos material (air tight, leak proof bags that are properly labeled)
- Keeping the work free of asbestos dust and debris
- Using wetting agents to weigh down asbestos fibers during removal
- Identifying the work zone as hazardous
- Separating and sealing off the work area from other areas of the house
After the work is completed, it is recommended that an asbestos inspector test the air quality in the area to make sure that the asbestos removal was done correctly.
Asbestos may not be used as abundantly as it once was; however, even the slightest exposure can have long lasting effects on the body. The latency period between asbestos exposure and illness can be anywhere from 15 to 50 years and result in irreversible and often fatal conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. If you are suffering from as asbestos-related injury, contact the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White for a free case review.
US Environmental Protection Agency: Asbestos [Link]
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