To test or not to test?

“My house is newer so I don’t have to test for asbestos, right?”

WRONG! There is no magic date in which asbestos was no longer used.  In fact, asbestos is not completely banned in the United States. Only 10 asbestos containing products are currently banned; the other several thousand are legal.  If you go to your local building supply store and start sampling you may find materials containing asbestos on the shelf for sale.  Worst of all, many people still believe that asbestos is only an issue in old buildings.  That thought has led to another problem:  resistance to sampling for asbestos prior to a demolition or renovation.  The EPA regulation, NESHAP says that …the owner or operator of a demolition or renovation activity and prior to the commencement of the demolition or renovation, must thoroughly inspect the affected facility for the presence of asbestos…  There is no mention of a date; it just says an owner must thoroughly inspect.  The EPA is not the only agency that regulates asbestos, OSHA also regulates asbestos. OSHA has regulations to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure, but how do you know if you need training or protection if you don’t even know if you have asbestos?  In order to comply with those regulations you must know if asbestos is present. In the asbestos world you have two options:   assume the material has asbestos or sample, test, and prove otherwise.  Now I have seen some people try the “I didn’t know any better” defense which didn’t work for me the other day when I was pulled over for speeding, and I am pretty sure it will not work with a pissed off government regulator. One of the biggest reasons people believe that newer construction doesn’t have asbestos is the belief that asbestos is or was banned.  Many asbestos products were banned in 1989 but that ruling was over turned in 1991 since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that EPA did not review economic effects on both sides of the case. They did manage to uphold the ban on thermal system insulation, fireproofing, spray applied surfacing, wall patching, corrugated paper, roll board, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt and any new uses of asbestos.  They are banned but that doesn’t mean they automatically disappear from all of the buildings in the United States or that other countries will follow the ban.  So it is here and still being installed in new construction. Below is an excerpt from a disturbing article by

“Asbestos Found in Many Common Household Products”

…Products that were found to contain asbestos were turned up in children’s toys, appliances, hardware, household goods, and home and garden items such as:

  • CSI Fingerprint Investigation Kit
  • Six colors of clay in Art Skills’ Clay Bucket
  • Three varieties of Ja-Ru Toy Clay
  • DAP 33 window glazing, made in the USA, and purchased at Lowe’s and Home Depot
  • DAP Crack Shot spackling paste, made in the USA, and purchased at Lowe’s and Home Depot
  • Gardner Leak Stopper Roof Patch made in the USA, and purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Wal-Mart
  • Scotch Duct Tape: High Performance, made in Canada, and purchased at Wal-Mart.

So how do you protect yourself from liability at work or protect your family at home…Follow the law!  Find out if a material has asbestos in it before you disturb it.  

You need to ask yourself “….did I take the appropriate precautions to protect my employees, contractors, or family? 

Do I know for sure? ”Ignorance is not bliss; hire a professional to find out if you have asbestos and then have it abated before you have to explain it to a lawyer on the witness stand!