Why is Asbestos Containing Material of Concern?

Asbestos containing material is of concern because asbestos fibers cause cancer and other lung diseases when fibers which are inhaled are not later exhaled from the lungs. In the 1950's and 60's, it was recognize that children of workers who were employed in asbestos plants could also contract asbestos-related lung diseases. For most residential uses, asbestos containing material were banned from further manufacture in 1978.

How Do You Tell If It Is A Problem?

Any building material which was manufactured before 1978 can potentially contain asbestos. Common asbestos containing materials include vinyl asbestos tiles, ceiling tiles, piping insulation, and sprayed-on insulation. Sprayed-on insulation is usually found on steel or concrete surfaces. An asbestos containing material (ACM) inspection is conducted, to see if there are any asbestos containing materials are present and to rate the condition of the materials. Asbestos containing materials in poor condition, and those that will be disturbed through renovation or demolition, can present a hazard.

What is an ACM Inspection?

ACM inspections are conducted by a licensed professional, who inspects a given structure, following standard protocols. Potential asbestos containing materials are identified, quantified, and sampled. Materials found to be asbestos containing materials are also rated as to condition, and inventoried in a survey report. Materials are generally rated in good, fair, or poor condition, and materials identified in poor condition are generally recommended to be abated.

What are the Typical Hazards?

The most common hazards from asbestos containing materials are loose fibers which are inhaled by building occupants or maintenance workers. Those who have contracted asbestos-related lung diseases often worked in locations where their job has exposed them to elevated fiber levels. Pipe insulation or sprayed-on insulation in poor condition, can sometimes be a imminent hazard when fibers become airborne, they stay in the air for a long period of time and do not settle out. Floor tiles and ceiling tiles in good condition generally do not present a hazard, unless they are disturbed, so it is necessary that such tiles not be disturbed to prevent them from becoming a hazard.

What Abatement Measures are Usually Necessary?

Abatement involves addressing the hazard either through removal, encapsulation, or other enclosure of the asbestos containing material. Special measures are necessary during abatement projects to carefully control release of fibers. It is necessary to use barriers and negative air with filters, to protect both asbestos workers and building occupants. Abatement activities must follow strict state and federal regulations. Encapsulation is another method of abatement, which involves covering the asbestos containing material with either another sprayed-on layer of material or with another building material. Encapsulation, which typically costs less than abatement, can only be performed where the substrate material and the asbestos containing material itself are fair to good condition, so that the insulation and encapsulating layer are structurally sound.

Who Does The Work?

Only Licensed Asbestos Containing Material Inspectors and Licensed Asbestos Containing Material Abatement Contractors are allowed to perform the work. All significant abatement projects require advanced notice to regulatory agencies, and are sometimes inspected by government agencies as well. There are also provisions for special handling methods for disposal of waste materials from abatement projects.

When is Full Abatement Impractical?

Although building owners frequently like to rid their premises of entirely of asbestos containing materials, complete abatement by removal is sometimes impractical. This is because asbestos containing materials may be present in locations where the building cannot continue to be used while abatement is underway, or the asbestos may be present in locations which may not be accessible without major or partial demolition occurring. In such instances, materials can be managed under an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Plan. Abating material in poor condition and managing the balance of the material under an O&M Plan is the only practical alternative for some buildings.

What is an O&M Plan?

An O&M Plan is required under OSHA regulations to help protect workers and others from asbestos hazards. Among topics included in an O&M Plan are how to manage debris, how to maintain ACM surfaces, as well as basic information on what is required to complete abatement projects. O&M Plans also include an inventory of materials, and building tenants and maintenance workers are typically notified of the existence of the O&M Plan. The O&M Plan allows maintenance workers to know where asbestos containing materials are present, so that maintenance activities can be conducted so as to avoid distributing asbestos containing material hazards.

Are There Practical Training Tips?

For buildings where asbestos containing material is present on an ongoing basis, there is a two-hour training session called "Asbestos Awareness Training". Awareness training includes focus on the practical tips which help building owners, managers, and workers avoid asbestos hazards using a common sense maintenance approaches. Having an inventory of materials and knowing how to avoid asbestos hazards and to how to avoid creating them, goes a long way helping to assuring a safe building environment.

Please call Gary Brown at (610) 265-1510 for more information or questions regarding asbestos, or use the Request for Services form to obtain a proposal within 24 Hours.