Removing asbestos is a difficult job. It’s not a matter of just ripping down the asbestos-containing areas of a home or building. It’s a job that needs to be done with caution and care. It is vital to use the proper procedures and bodily protection. When it’s airborne, asbestos is a very serious health hazard.
There are thousands of asbestos-containing products that still remain in the United States. Although there is a limit on the manufacturing of new asbestos-containing products in the U.S., there is no outright ban or ban on importing the materials and using it. In fact, up to 1,100 tons of asbestos is shipped into the U.S. every year and used in a variety of applications. At the same time, thousands of homes and buildings that were built in the 1980s and before have asbestos roofs, walls and floors.
Why Remove Asbestos from a Home or Building?
Unbroken, asbestos products are not harmful. It’s when those products chip or fracture that asbestos is released into the air and becomes dangerous. The fine and lightweight fibers can linger in the air for hours before being inhaled or ingested. Once that happens, the fibers cause an irritation that can form mesothelioma over a period of decades.
Exposed to Asbestos?
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Who can Remove Asbestos?
In a private home, there are no laws governing how asbestos must be removed from the home. Many homeowners simply take it upon themselves to remove the materials, but this is dangerous. If you must do it yourself, be sure to remove the asbestos-containing materials completely and encase or encapsulate them before properly discarding of it. It is important to determine the applicable laws before disposing of the materials.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency trains and accredits asbestos professionals. The agency monitors asbestos levels in the air and water, setting legal limits for asbestos exposure. There are two types of asbestos professionals to consider hiring when removing asbestos:
- Asbestos Inspector --An inspector can assess the conditions inside a home or building and take samples of suspect materials for testing. Inspectors can also monitor the work of asbestos contractors while the abatement is being completed.
- Asbestos Contractor -- These are professional licensed contractors who know the proper techniques and procedures used to remove asbestos.
In commercial and public buildings and schools, there are laws regarding the way asbestos is removed, including using an accredited asbestos abatement professional. Before becoming an abatement professional, workers must go through rigorous training, pass the necessary exams and fulfill other state and federal requirements. Once the asbestos-containing materials are removed, there are strict requirements established by local and state laws nationwide for disposal.
Asbestos Abatement in the Workplace
In addition to asbestos being found in the walls, floors and roofs of buildings, it can be found in the workplace. For mechanics, chemical workers and steelworkers, asbestos is amply used. While it is impossible to remove these from the workplace completely, it is important that workers wear the proper protective gear, including facemasks and breathing apparatus.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Asbestos. Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos
United States Department of Labor. Asbestos. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/