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?
- Air monitoring
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral.
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 in growing 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 call mesothelioma (made famous by late night lawyer commercials). This disease is thought to be caused when a fiber works it way through the lung tissue into the pleura lining of the lungs. Then forming a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.
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.
- 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
- Transite panels
- 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)
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. OSHA on the other hand defines asbestos as asbestos, there is no cut off for 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, EPA, and the Ohio Department of Health".
Most people think that if they buy a new home or build a new building that they couldn't possibly contain asbestos. Sorry, but they still mine asbestos today and in our global economy we are still importing building products that contain asbestos. If you build a building on Monday and want to tear it down on Tuesday you must perform an asbestos survey to locate all regulated asbestos containing materials. So you are not exempt from the regulations just because your building is new.
The answer is yes as long as it is your primary residence. We do not recommend that you try on your own but it is legal. As far as disposal you must check with your waste disposal company to see if it is ok to put the waste generated from this operation in the garbage can.
It depends on what you are doing: For example if you are going to renovate say an office and you will be disturbing materials like walls, floors, ceilings, etc. then the law, NESHAP, says the building owner must thoroughly inspect for asbestos containing materials. So, in this case the plaster walls had asbestos and you planned to demo those walls then yes you would have to abate the asbestos. If however you are not planning to disturb those materials and they are in good condition you are not required to remove. If you are a homeowner, really no one can force you to remove asbestos. You are free to contaminate your family and friends as long as you like.
Friable asbestos goes to a licensed construction debris landfill. Our waste is taken to Minerva Enterprises in Waynesburg, OH, unless a client specifies a different disposal facility. Incidentally this is one of the most asked questions.
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 tapped duct joint. A ball park price for a typical duct insulation job is around $1,500.00. Your situation may vary. For a more accurate price click here and describe your specific situation or call 866.366.1866. Each project is priced to fit your specific needs.
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!
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.
All of this being said how do you really know if it is safe? Air monitoring can be performed during or at the end of the project. 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 with a little math you have a measure of fibers per cubic centimeter of air (f/cc). OSHA says that you can be exposed up to 0.1 f/cc (aka the permissible exposure limit). Also another standard is called a clearance standard that is the level you look for at the end of an abatement project 0.01 f/cc. There are many other forms of air monitoring for abatement some of which is more stringent and applies to 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 in some cases we do recommend in order to sell a property and to limit liabilities.
Recent Health Information:
We were recently contacted from Pleuralmesothelioma.com which has the most up to date and comprehensive information about Pleural Mesothelioma and asbestos exposure related cancer on the web today. Such as information ranging from a complete list of symptoms, to treatment options, and steps to take after a diagnosis.
We felt it necessary to link to their site as way to help people who are dealing with the disease.