There are several options the asbestos professional may recommend for dealing with asbestos in your home. Which method is the most appropriate, depends upon the condition and location of the asbestos material.
If the asbestos-containing material is damaged or deteriorated, the professional may recommend that it be removed or repaired. Planned or unplanned renovation activities may also require removal if asbestos-containing material will be disturbed as a result of the renovation. If materials are intact, but have a high potential for being damaged or disturbed, it may be desirable to remove these materials to avoid inadvertent exposures.
If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed or misused, the professional may suggest a management program to minimize or prevent exposure to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos removal should only be performed by a professional asbestos abatement contractor. The contractor should follow the following steps:
The visual test always comes first. All surfaces are examined to see if the area is completely free of all asbestos dust and debris. If dust and debris is found, the area must be recleaned by the contractor and the visual inspection repeated.
If the area passes this visual inspection, aggressive air sampling should be performed to test for asbestos fibers. In taking an aggressive air sample, the air should be stirred up or circulated by using a fan or other device before the air sample is taken. This method produces a much more accurate measure of whether or not any asbestos fibers remain in the work area than a sample taken after the air has been stagnant for a few hours or even days.
An often acceptable standard for final air sampling after abatement is .01 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter of air (0.01 f/cc). If the work area fails the air sampling test, the abatement contractor should reclean the entire work area and then follow with another visual inspection and air test.
Asbestos Management Program
Removal of asbestos-containing materials is the only permanent solution to an asbestos problem. However, if the asbestos is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed, there are several methods of managing it in place:
Enclosure, encapsulation, and even spot repairs should be performed by someone who is trained in handling asbestos, and may require enclosure of the work area and use of protective clothing and approved respirators.
All asbestos waste and the disposable clothing, filters, equipment, and building materials used by a commercial asbestos abatement company which are not to be cleaned and reused, must be disposed of as asbestos waste. The material must be placed in double 6-mil plastic bags, labeled as asbestos, hauled to an approved asbestos landfill in a covered vehicle, and disposed of according to EPA, state, and local regulations.
You or the contractor should contact the health department or environmental affairs agency in your area to determine local notification, removal, and disposal requirements and sites.
Costs will vary depending upon your particular circumstances and geographical location. Some ballpark estimates are provided below:
NOTE: Some contractors have minimum cost levels before they will even come out to do an abatement job. Most household abatement jobs are so small and the contractor's set-up and clean-up costs are so high that the fee they will charge you is much higher than the per foot removal or encapsulation cost would indicate. For a household abatement job you should expect to pay $1,500 to $3,000 regardless of how small the task is.
The federal government has training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also have or require training or certification courses.
In choosing a professional to do work with asbestos, keep in mind that most home repair or remodeling contractors are not certified or equipped to work with asbestos safely. Ask for written proof that the inspector or contractor and their workers have completed a federal or state-approved asbestos training course.
State and local labor and health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area. Abatement companies are also listed in the yellow pages under "asbestos."
You should request references from former customers. In addition, find out from the Better Business Bureau or a local environmental or worker safety agency if they have received complaints or found violations of regulations by the contractor.
You should also check the contractor's insurance policy to make sure that asbestos-related claims are not excluded from the policy and that the insurance covers problems discovered after the job is over, not just claims made during the course of the job.
Discuss with the contractor the procedures that he or she plans to use to minimize or prevent your exposure to asbestos during the abatement work.
The EPA recommends that the asbestos professional that inspects your house for asbestos hazards and develops the management plan be independent from the contractor who performs the abatement work. This will ensure that only the necessary work is done and that proper removal and cleanup is performed.
When you choose a contractor to perform the abatement work, make sure to spell out in writing all the parts of the job. You should include all the items on this check list:
For more information about the White Lung Association and its programs, please contact Jim Fite, firstname.lastname@example.org