Asbestos and lead-based paint aren’t devils of the past.
They can still be found, and they can cause fatal health problems.
Despite cleanup efforts, there is still enough asbestos and lead-based paint to last for generations. While not dangerous if remained undisturbed, if not maintained properly, they can deteriorate and become a serious health hazard to both adults and children. Many homeowners or businesses can’t afford lead-based paint or asbestos abatement. It can cost thousands of dollars depending on the size of the project. Fortunately, if lead-based paint is covered with non-lead paint, you can safely live in the home. The same goes for asbestos if it is encapsulated. But these are temporary fixes if not maintained. Some states have housing programs that can help residents remove health hazards from their homes.
Not only is there an immense amount of asbestos and lead that exist from previous use, but the use of these products today has not been entirely banned.
The manufacture, importation, processing and distribution in commerce of these asbestos-containing products are not banned:
Why hire a contractor for asbestos removal?
Asbestos removal is complicated.
Hiring an asbestos abatement company is not only the easiest way to remove asbestos, but is also the SAFEST.
Contractors, facilities managers and others cannot safely remove asbestos without proper training and licensing.
Complications of Doing-It-Yourself:
- Only Residential properties: Asbestos removal by homeowner is limited to residential property. A certified abatement professional must do the work on a commercial property.
- Single-family only: Self-removal can only be performed in single-family residences. This does not include multiple-family units or mixed-use buildings that contain a residential unit.
- Permits are required and vary by location. In one area, several agencies could be regulating asbestos removal.
- Proper disposal: Asbestos cannot be put with the regular garage. It must be disposed of at an approved facility.
While it’s legal for homeowners to remove asbestos themselves, asbestos can cause life-threatening diseases if not properly removed. Disease symptoms may take many years to develop following exposure and can be difficult to identify.
The three primary health concerns associated with asbestos exposure are:
- Lung cancer.
- Mesothelioma, a cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest, abdomen and heart.
- Asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term disease of the lungs.
Smokers are at greater risk.
Are you the “AHERA Designated Person”?
Then you’re in charge of implementing an Asbestos Management Plan.
Public school districts and non-profit schools for grades K-12 are required to develop, maintain and update Asbestos Management Plans. These plans document asbestos response actions, locations of the asbestos within schools, and any action taken to repair and remove the material.
Records must be maintained in the Asbestos Management Plan.
The records listed below are required by the EPA to be in the Asbestos Management Plan.
- Name and address of each school building and whether the building has asbestos-containing building material (ACBM), and the type of asbestos-containing material (ACM).
- Date of the original school inspection
- Plan for re-inspections
- Blueprints that clearly identifies the locations of ACBM that remains in the school
- Description of any response action or preventive measures taken to reduce asbestos exposure
- Copy of the analysis of any building, and the name and address of any laboratory that sampled the material
- Name, address, and telephone number of the “AHERA Designated Person” to ensure the duties of the school district or non-profit private school are carried out
- Description of steps taken to inform workers, teachers, and students or their legal guardians about inspections, re-inspections, response actions, and periodic surveillance
Workers involved in construction, renovation or demolition have a high risk of being exposed to asbestos-containing materials (ACM).
Some of these materials include:
- Vinyl floor tiles and adhesives
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
While the construction workplace has regulations to protect the workers, those in a maintenance or custodial position may not know what to do if they accidentally disturb ACM.
The EPA offers three types of training for those who do not typically work with asbestos.
Type 1: Awareness Training
This training is for maintenance and custodial staff involved in cleaning tasks where ACM may be accidentally disturbed. It is two hours and the topics may include:
- Background information on asbestos
- Health effects
- Worker protection programs
- Locations of ACM in the building
- Recognition of ACM damage and deterioration
- The operations and maintenance program for that building.
Type 2: Special Operations and Maintenance Training
This training is for maintenance staff involved in general maintenance and ACM repair. This class is generally at least 14 hours because it involves more detailed discussions of the topics in the Awareness Training along with more complex information such as:
- Federal, state, and local asbestos regulations
- Proper asbestos-related work practices
- Descriptions of the proper methods of handling and disposal of ACM
- Respirator use, care, and fit-testing
- Protective clothing donning, use, and handling
- Hands-on exercises for techniques such as glovebag work and HEPA vacuum use and maintenance
- Appropriate and proper worker decontamination procedures.
Type 3: Abatement Worker Training
This training is for workers who work directly with ACM. These courses range in from 32 to 40 hours. Abatement worker training addresses a variety of specialized topics such as:
- Pre-asbestos abatement work activities
- Work area preparation
- Establishing decontamination units
- Personal protection, including respirator selection, use, fit-testing, and protective clothing
- Worker decontamination procedures
- Safety considerations in the abatement work area
- A series of practical hands-on exercises
- Proper handling and disposal of ACM wastes.
The EPA lists a few Do’s and Don’ts:
- Do leave undamaged asbestos-containing materials alone.
- Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos, including limiting children’s access to any materials that may contain asbestos.
- Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos-containing material.
- Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by a trained and accredited asbestos professional.
- Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in ACM.
- Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on flooring that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing install new floor covering over it, if possible.
- Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house or building. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area or if a large area must be cleaned, contact an asbestos professional.
Those who work in shipyards, power plants, construction, firefighting, schools, oil refineries, paper mills, and the metal works industry run the risk of being exposed to Asbestos. Asbestos can cause mild to life-threatening illnesses such as several types of cancer. You may think the people who work with hazardous materials are the only ones that risk exposure.
But that’s false.
Just like secondhand smoke, people are susceptible to secondhand exposure of asbestos. While asbestos materials are disturbed by being cut, sawed, sanded, ground etc.…toxic fibers are released. Inhalation of these microscopic fibers would be firsthand exposure.
Secondhand exposure comes from the worker bringing those fibers back on clothing, skin, and in their hair. The fibers can then contaminate the home, putting anyone who resides there at risk. The fibers can settle in bedding, carpets, couches, and other furniture.
Change out of the contaminated clothing before returning home. Avoid dusting it off or shaking the clothing as that will disperse the fibers. Do not wash the Asbestos exposed clothing at home. Fibers can contaminate other clothing during a laundry cycle.
Asbestos removal is highly regulated because the dangers to individuals. Asbestos should not be removed or handled without seeking advice from a professional.
For more information about asbestos, or to schedule asbestos removal, please contact the Asbestos Division of Baxter Group, Inc.
Celebrate National Healthy Homes Month!
June 2017 is the Second Annual National Healthy Homes Month.
Indoor Air Quality has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the five most urgent environmental risks to public health. HVACR manufacturers, distributors, and contractors are installing more indoor environmental products noticing that IAQ plays a large role in employee health and performance.
People spend most of their time indoors; National Healthy Homes Month offers concepts and tips for keeping those inside spaces healthy and safe.
The theme for this National Healthy Homes Month is Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home. Each week in June; NHHM will focus on the “Principals of Healthy Homes” with associated set of activities:
- Childhood lead poisoning prevention
- Residential asthma intervention
- Injury prevention
- Smoke free public housing
- Safe indoor pest control
- Radon Safety
- Disaster Recovery
A series of webinars will also be happening throughout the month.
For resources and activities updates, visit the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.
Many people believe asbestos is illegal to use nowadays, so new building structures cannot possibly have asbestos in them. Unfortunately, that perception is incorrect. Though strictly regulated, asbestos is still in use today.
In 2010, a suburban county in Maryland was finally able to construct eight new elementary schools after dealing with the expenses and delays due to asbestos remediation and control for the last two decades. Many times, the building materials were just assumed to not have any trace of asbestos. Out of hundreds of new floor tiles, batches of similarly colored tiles repeatedly tested positive for asbestos. After vigorous analyses using several methods, it was proclaimed that the tiles should be treated like asbestos containing materials.
This resulted in the manufacturer offering to remove all the newly installed tiles, re-installing new non-ACM tiles, and any cleanup. The school saved over $500,000 in current and future clean-up expenses, and the students, staff, educators and parents avoided asbestos exposure.
Which Buildings Require Asbestos Testing Prior to Renovation/Demolition?
Answer: All of Them.
One of the most common misconceptions is that a building built after 1980 cannot possibly contain asbestos, and not be subject to asbestos inspection and sampling provisions required by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). Products containing asbestos have not been completely banned in the U.S.
Some products still in use are:
- Pipeline wrap
- Vinyl-asbestos floor tile
- Roofing felt and coatings
- Automotive products
All buildings, except for residential structures of four or fewer dwelling units, are subject to Asbestos NESHAP regardless of the structure’s age. Prior to performing any renovation and/or demolition, the owner or operator must conduct an asbestos inspection, including bulk sample collection and analysis of any area of the structure that will be affected.