Prior to US Federal Government bans in the 1970s, asbestos was used for over 4,000 years, primarily for its superior insulating properties. Most commonly, asbestos was sprayed, or “flocked” on ceilings, creating a textured “popcorn” appearance. It was also used as spray-applied insulation because it was flame-retardant.
The danger of flocking is that asbestos fibers are more likely to loosen and enter the air as inhalable dust. In fact, surfaces that are most vulnerable to this process and that are most likely to create toxic dust are described by their own adjective: friable. Popcorn ceiling is considered extremely friable.
Today, thanks to the many television commercials asking if you or a loved one has been a victim of asbestos-related illness such Mesothelioma – a form of cancer caused by inhaling the dust from friable surfaces – you probably know that asbestos can be dangerous.
What you may not know, however, is that many homes and buildings in America still contain asbestos, and it often goes unchecked. Buildings constructed as late as 1986 – years after the ban – may contain asbestos materials because installers who already owned product were permitted to use up their supplies.
Since the toxicity of airborne asbestos fibers is undisputed, it is vital that you test for the material before starting construction, renovation, or demolition of any structure built prior to 1990. Even more important is what you choose to do about it if tests come back positive for asbestos.
In some cases, you’ll need to remove the asbestos. In others, it is actually safer to seal and contain asbestos where it is as removal would be more dangerous. The only way to know which option is best for you is to contact a professional asbestos abatement company.
Three Questions to Ask Your Asbestos Abatement Contractor
1. What training do you have?
Training ensures that your contractor understands the local, state, and federal regulations that apply to asbestos abatement, and that they know how to do the work as safely and thoroughly as possible.
In addition to properly preparing the contractor to do the job safely, training increases the likelihood they’ll complete it quickly – an important factor to consider when you may have to leave a building or wait to occupy it until the job is done.
2. Are you licensed?
Not every state requires licensure to perform asbestos abatement, but many do. Look for licensed contractors whenever possible to ensure they are properly trained to do the job.
3. How will I know the job was done right?
Always ask for references, but also ask the contractor what, if any, testing or documentation you will receive upon completion of the work. This information should go into their written contract with you and any fees associated with proving to your satisfaction that the materials have been effectively removed or contained should be included in their proposal. Make sure you mutually agree to the standards for those results and understand what they mean before you sign off on them.
While it may be tempting to deal with an asbestos problem yourself, don’t. Aside from the health hazards, you may end up on the wrong side of the law. There are numerous EPA regulations regarding asbestos remediation and abatement, and licensure requirements in many states, as well. The cost of trying to “save” on this important procedure may end up being more than you bargained for.
Microtech Environmental Services provides the best in quality service in asbestos abatement and other industrial abatement services.