About Asbestos Abatement
Numerous buildings contain a hazardous material known as asbestos
, which has been used as a flame retardant as well as a thermal insulator commonly found in ceilings. The substance has also been found inside ducts, false ceilings and other spaces where access is difficult and removal is challenging. Within homes, asbestos was commonly used as a form of ceiling known as “popcorn” or “cottage cheese” ceiling, until the product was banned in 1978. Despite this ban, houses built as recently as 1986 have been found to contain the material. The only way to ensure whether or not a home contains asbestos is by removing a suspected section and testing the material in a laboratory that specializes in the analysis of asbestos.
Depending upon the manner which the material was applied with, it is possible that the risk
the asbestos poses is minimal. If the fibers are unable to become airborne, they cannot be inhaled, meaning they pose no threat. However, if the asbestos is “flocked,” the fibers are able to drop from the ceiling into the air throughout the building. Because of this, asbestos is hazardous to people dwelling in the building as well as personnel who have damaged walls and ceilings that contain the material.
If removal is necessary when people are within the building, relocation is usually also necessary. Generally, the area from which the asbestos is being removed is sealed from the rest of the building. Sealing is typically done with duct tape, negative air pressure machines with HEPA filters and polyethylene film. This will ensure that fresh air is pulled from the room instead of the fibers being allowed to leave the contained area. The vacuum that is used to remove asbestos must be one that is specifically designed to remove asbestos. An ordinary cleaner will not work because they would expel the fibers into the rest of the room.
Fortunately, asbestos removal is not the only means by which asbestos can be abated. Materials containing asbestos as well as the material itself can be “encapsulated” in order to prevent the occupants of the building from being exposed to the fibers. Even a building which is planned for demolition and contains asbestos may need to be sealed to prevent the release of fibers. This will allow for the safe removal of asbestos before demolition occurs.