Asbestos refers to a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals that contain silicates. Because of these fibers’ flexibility, strength, and insulation properties, asbestos has been used in a variety of products. In the average home before the 1970s, asbestos could be found in roofing, tiling, flooring, fireproofing, paint, plumbing, and wiring materials. These materials have caused many medical problems over the years and many personal injury cases that resulted from negligent exposure to asbestos and asbestos fibers.
The Asbestos Hazard
Asbestos fibers are tiny and light. When an asbestos-containing product weathers or is damaged, these fibers are released into the air. Because they can be inhaled or accidentally ingested, they pose a serious health hazard.
Some asbestos-related diseases include mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques, and intestinal cancer, as skilled companies focusing in asbestos removal Los Angeles CA residents trust can explain.. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), mesothelioma claimed over 37,000 lives between 1999 and 2013 in the United States. Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases usually do not appear right away; the latency periods for these diseases are between 10 and 40 years. To avoid the health hazards associated with asbestos, it is recommended to seek professional help for the safe removal from homes, institutions, and commercial buildings. Additionally, if a building is to be demolished, asbestos should be removed to prevent the fibers from being released into the environment.
If you suspect any material in your building contains asbestos, you should not attempt to remove it by yourself. There are various safety and legal requirements and guidelines for the safe removal of asbestos.
A certified asbestos consultant from the Department of Labor Standards can help ascertain whether asbestos materials in your home or workplace require removal or repair. Because there are no on-site asbestos testing tools, asbestos removal contractors may remove bulk samples for testing at an accredited laboratory. These tests help determine the type and percentage of asbestos in the sample.
Asbestos Abatement Methods
If the contractor determines that there is asbestos in your home, asbestos abatement is recommended. It can be done using one of these four methods:
- Removal: This involves elimination of all asbestos-containing material from a property. It must be carried out by licensed asbestos contractors.
- Encapsulation: This involves sealing off all asbestos materials with an encapsulate that prevents damage or exposure.
- Enclosure: In this method, an airtight structure is used to enclose the asbestos material and prevent exposure. The structure requires maintenance to remain airtight.
- Repair: If there are damaged materials containing asbestos such as floor tiles, a contractor can repair them to prevent the fibers from being released into the environment.
Asbestos Removal Process
For safety during and after the abatement process, some steps need to be followed:
- Sealing Off: The area where the asbestos is being removed is sealed off from the rest of the property.
- Air Filters: Air filtration devices are installed in the sealed area to ensure none of the contaminated air escapes.
- Asbestos Removal: The abatement crew dampens and removes the material using various methods including demolition, scraping, and sanding. The areas where asbestos cannot be removed for structural reasons are also sealed off.
- Disposal: The contaminated materials are removed from the property in specialized containers that are leak-proof. They are then disposed of in an authorized landfill.
- Decontamination: All surfaces are wiped and vacuumed with specialized equipment to remove all traces of fibers. They may also use sealants to make sure remaining fibers are trapped underneath the surface.
- Inspection: The building must be inspected, and further lab tests conducted to ensure the area is free from asbestos. If the tests are clear, the air filters and containing barriers can be removed.
This process requires a highly specialized team to ensure it is done successfully and safely. In some areas, training and certification are required for any asbestos removal job. An experienced asbestos removal company in your area can help assess, remove, and dispose of this toxic material from your building.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Nielsen Environmental for their insight into asbestos removal and the hazards of asbestos.