Frequently Asked Questions
- What is asbestos?
- Why is asbestos dangerous?
- Why was it used?
- What types of building materials contain asbestos?
- How do I know if a building material contains asbestos?
- What year did they stop using asbestos?
- Can I legally remove asbestos from my house?
- Do I have to remove asbestos from my house or facility?
- Where does the asbestos go after it is removed?
- How much does it cost to remove or repair asbestos?
- How do I select a contractor to remove or repair my asbestos?
- How do I know it is safe?
- How can you monitor the air to make sure it’s safe?
1. What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral.
2. Why is asbestos dangerous
Asbestos when friable (can be crushed into dust with normal hand pressure) produces small lightweight fibers that float in the air. When inhaled into the lungs they stab the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs). Since the tiny fiber has a barbed end, the fiber becomes trapped and cannot be expelled from the lungs, and the body's natural defenses kick to grow scar tissue around the alveoli. If this process continues, additional alveoli are damaged which reduces the ability of absorbing oxygen into the bloodstream. This affliction is called asbestosis. Another more deadly disease is called mesothelioma (made famous by late-night lawyer commercials). This disease is thought to be caused when a fiber works its way through the lung tissue into the pleura lining of the lungs. This can lead to a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.
3. Why was it used?
Asbestos has unique properties such as resistance to heat, chemicals, and weather which makes it great for use as an insulator or as an additive to building materials.
4. What types of building materials contain asbestos
● Roofing materials
● Transite panels
● Rolled roofing
● Flooring materials
● Floor tile and mastics
● Linoleum and sheet flooring and mastics
● Wall and ceiling materials
● Dry wall
● Joint compound
● Hard Plaster
● Acoustical Plaster
● Sheet rock
● Pipe, duct, and tank insulation
● Window glazing and caulking
● Vermiculite (wall and attic insulation)
● Glues (carpet, tile, or construction adhesives)
● Fake snow (even used as fake snow back in the old Hollywood days)
5. How do I know if a building material contains asbestos?
It must be sampled by a Certified Asbestos Hazard Evaluation Specialist and analyzed by a laboratory for asbestos content. The EPA and the Ohio department of Health both agree that any building material with asbestos content above 1% is to be considered asbestos-containing material. However, OSHA defines asbestos as being asbestos in any quantity (even if less than 1%). This can get tricky. So the bottom line is if there is asbestos at any percent you must follow the OSHA standards, but if it is above 1% then you must comply with OSHA, and the EPA.
6. What year did they stop using asbestos?
Most people think that if they buy a new home or build a new building that it couldn't possibly contain asbestos. However, asbestos continues to be mined and used today, and the US is still importing building products that contain asbestos. Even if you build a building today and want to tear it down tomorrow, you must perform an asbestos survey to locate all regulated asbestos-containing materials. Even new buildings must comply with the regulations.
7. Can I legally remove asbestos from my house?
We recommend having the removal professionally done, but it is legal for you to remove asbestos yourself as long as it is in your primary residence. As far as disposal, you must check with your waste disposal company to see if they will accept the waste generated from the project.
8. Do I have to remove asbestos from my house or facility?
It depends on if the space will be for public or private use. For example, if you are going to renovate an office and you will be disturbing materials (ie. walls, floors, ceilings, etc.), then the law (NESHAP) says the building owner must thoroughly inspect for asbestos-containing materials. If any of the materials being disturbed are determined to contain asbestos, you would have to abate it according to regulations. If, however, you are not planning to disturb those materials that contain asbestos, then you are not required to remove it. Additionally, homeowners cannot be forced to remove asbestos from their residence.
9. Where does the asbestos go after it is removed?
Friable asbestos goes to a licensed landfill. Those landfills have to go through a special permitting process with the Ohio EPA in order to accept asbestos.
10. How much does it cost to remove or repair asbestos?
Cost can vary based on the quantity, type of material, how it is attached, and accessibility. For example, one of the most common situations is duct insulation in the basement of a house (see below). Usually appearing as a white or gray paper wrap fully covering the duct or a two-inch wide taped duct joint. An approximate price for a typical duct insulation job is around $2,500.00, though your situation may vary. For a more accurate price click here or call (330) 818-0188 and describe your specific situation. Each project is priced to fit your specific needs.
11. How do I select a contractor to remove or repair my asbestos?
Well of course you should call us (866.366.1896) or click here. But we do understand that people like to shop so we offer the following when choosing a contractor.
- License: Only hire Ohio Department of Health licensed contractors (the contractor should be able to supply a copy of license).
- Insurance: They should have at least 3 million dollars in pollution liability insurance and be able to prove it.
- Workers compensation: They must have worker's compensation coverage of the employees. Again, they should have a certificate to prove it.
- Price: When purchasing a commodity item such as gasoline the lowest price may be the lowest price, but not when you are purchasing services to be performed in your home or business. The horror stories of people hiring bad contractors could fill a library and most could have been avoided. Select the contractor that has the proper paperwork and is not afraid to make commitments in writing. We believe that the definition of a good contractor is one who makes a commitment and keeps it!
12. How do I know it is safe?
When performing removal of friable asbestos (can be crushed under normal hand pressure) the work area must be isolated and demarcated from the rest of the building. This is achieved with plastic barriers sealed over doors, HVAC grates, windows, etc. (aka critical air flows). In the case of pipe insulation we have a specially manufactured bags called a glove bags which attach to the pipe and allow us to remove the insulation inside of the bag keeping the hazard away from the employee and the outside air (see below).
In some cases negative air pressure is established in the work area using air filtration machines (aka HOGS see below) which are large fans that suck the dirty air through a 12 inch thick hepa filter and then exhaust clean air to the outside. This negative air pressure inside of the work area draws air into the work area so that nothing escapes. The asbestos containing material is thoroughly wetted and kept wet throughout the removal process. Vacuums equipped with hepa filtration are used to perform the clean-up at the completion of removal.
13. How can you monitor the air to make sure it’s safe?
Basically, air monitoring is performed by sucking a known volume of air through a filter and then analyzing the filter under a microscope to count fibers. Then, we can determine a measure of fibers per cubic centimeter of air (f/cc). OSHA says that you can be exposed up to 0.1 f/cc for an eight hour period (aka the permissible exposure limit). We are also able to assess the clearance standard which is the level we look for at the end of an abatement project. There are many other forms of air monitoring for abatement, some of which are more stringent and apply to particular types of buildings like schools. The bottom line is that most of the air monitoring (i.e. clearance sampling) is not required by law and does add some cost to the project, but we do recommend it will limit your liability and give some peace of mind.
Recent Health Information:
For the most up to date and comprehensive information about pleural mesothelioma and asbestos-related cancer on the web, visit Pleuralmesothelioma.com.
There you can find information ranging from a complete list of symptoms, to treatment options, and steps to take after a diagnosis.